This is essentially a tribute gig to one of the all time Soul, Gospel and R ‘n’ B greats Mr. Curtis Mayfield. The band, who call themselves The Curtom Orchestra, are composed of various members of Speedometer (who are also the support group tonight), The James Taylor Quartet and Simon Bartholomew, lead guitarist with the Brand New Heavies. They faithfully re-create the soulful Impressions sound and that’s the cue for Fred Cash, Sam Gooden and Reggie Torian to take to the stage.
They’re all looking fit and very dapper in their dark suits and launch into “Gypsy woman” complete with understated and perfectly executed synchronised dance moves. From there it’s a good old clap along to the Gospel stirrings of “It’s Alright”, originally released in 1963 and still sounding life affirming. Reggie Torian takes the lead vocal that would have been sung by Curtis Mayfield. His voice is different enough so that he’s not doing a vocal impression of Curtis’ unmistakeable voice, but he can hit the high notes where he needs to so that the songs sound faithful to the original versions.
After that we get “Talking About My Baby”, “I’m So Proud” and “Keep On Pushing”, each song delivered with great harmonies from all three and getting a great repsonse from the audience. Sam Gooden takes the lead on “I’ve Been Trying” but all three have such good voices that an one of them could sing lead vocals. “People Get Ready” also sounds really epic and gets huge applause, as I suppose it must be one of the more recognisable Mayfield songs. Then there’s the Northern Soul stomper “You’ve Been Cheatin’”, which gets people up out of their seats and dancing.
As if to prove that they have a great legacy of brilliant songs that span the Civil Rights era and beyond, The Impressions then sing “We’re A Winner”, “I Loved And I Lost”, “This Is My Country” and “Choice of Colors”. Reggie Torian then dons a dapper coat, white scarf and wide brim hat to launch into “Superfly”. The classic guitar intro is faithfully recreated by the Speedometer guitarist and when the band launch into the song people are again up and dancing.
After that we get “Mighty Mighty (Spade and Whitey)” and “Move On Up” as an encore. A great set from a unique group. Not only did they do justice to the great songs Curtis Mayfield left behind but they proved that they are still great entertainers in their own right. Easily one of the gigs of the year so far. Let’s hope it’s not too long before they return to the UK.
I forgot my camera but there’s footage of the gig on YouTube. Cheers to whoever posted this on there: