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Event Review: Al Green With Mavis Staples At The Orpheum Theatre
Boston - October 19, 2004
By Matthew S. Robinson
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Despite the Red Sox game being just underway, the historic Orpheum was packed with Soul faithful who had come to hear two of the greatest musical preachers the world has ever known. And they did NOT disappoint! Backed by her sister Yvonne and a be-tuxed set of "Staples Swingers," Mavis Staples exposed her heart through her Gospel-y growl. From the first song learned at "Pops" Staples' knee ("Will the Circle Be Unbroken") to offerings from her latest CD, the ten years in the making Have a Little Faith (Alligator), Staples showed that after 54 years, she still has it. And when the chatty lobby began to loom larger in the background, Staples dug even deeper and, through spiritually funky renditions of "Respect Yourself" and "God is Not Sleeping," she reached over and above the crowd, but not so far that "I'll Take You There" failed to make good on its word. In fact, by the time she reached this rousing closer, the audience was ready to follow Staples anywhere.

But first, it was time for the sermon.

Resplendent in a white three-piece suit, Al Green returned to the Boston stage among a musical congregation that included two percussionists, three keyboardists, three horn players, three singers (including his daughter), three guitarists, and even an occasional pair of lithe male dancers. Though the stage was busy, Green never failed to stand out, even when working away from the mic. With his still perfect falsetto and brilliant smile, Green reached every corner of the room, occasionally going out into the crowd to personally bless a chosen few. Though the opening offering of "I Can't Stop" was a but sluggish, "Let's Get Married" had both the preacher and his followers dancing in the aisles. On the spiritual side, "He's Coming Back" gave everyone hope and "Amazing Grace" was both, especially when it converted into a possessed coda of "Nearer My God to Thee."

Ever happy to please his supportive and often ecstatic fans, Green also offered up such classics as "Let's Stay Together," "How Do You Mend a Broken Heart?," and even an inadvertent(?) crotch grab that sent some of the ladies to swooning. Aside from a spirited attempt to exorcise the "Curse," Green left all memories of the all-important ballgame in the lobby as he got the crowd a-dancing and singing over and over again. After testifying on bended knees that he was "Tired of Being Alone," Green closed with a version of "Love and Happiness" that, as these things often do, brought everything together.

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