Real soul singers who would never need to use auto tune to hit the right notes are always welcome in my book, so it’s good to see Anthony Hamilton over here promoting his new album “Back to love”. His band consists of drums, bass, lead guitar, two banks of keyboards at either end of the stage and a trio of male backing singers. One of the backing singers acts as MC at the start of the show and gets the crowd hyped up before Mr. Hamilton takes to the stage. The backing singers complement him perfectly, as they each get a chance to solo and have strong gospel-tinged voices that match the range and power of Anthony Hamilton himself. The first number they all sing morphs into “It’s like that” by Run-DMC and gets the crowd singing along.
The band are tight and right, with the lead guitarist particularly seeming to enjoy his solos. The backing singers also have some tightly choreographed moves that they perform in perfect sync with Anthony Hamilton ranging from old school body popping to Motown era finger snaps and footwork. The nod to the old school is acknowledged when they all sing “A heart is a house for love”, recorded by The Dells and featured in one of my favourite films “The Five Heartbeats”.
An extended Gospel tinged number showcases the great voices of all four vocalists and the combination of tambourine and hand claps really makes it feel like we’re all going to church. I haven’t heard the new album yet so it was good to hear it for the first time in a live setting. The subject matter doesn’t vary a great deal across the songs, after all, an album entitled “Back to love” is going to deal with falling in love, staying in love, being in love with the wrong person and asking the person you love to forgive you when you’ve done them wrong – and we get all these variations on these themes in the new songs.
The set is interspersed with classics from his previous albums, and songs like “Charlene” and “Coming from where I’m from” still sound great and go down a storm with the packed Indigo2 crowd. He also thanks the London audience after performing “Everybody”, his reggae tinged mellow sing-along number, as he says they just didn’t get it in the States.
There’s no encore after an hour and thirty-five minutes but that’s largely due to licensing issues at the venue and the fact that it has to finish at the stroke of eleven. All in all though, it’s a great set from one of the best of the modern day soul singers.