Thu, 24 Oct 2019
Picture by Brian Harrington
PP Arnold, plus support Jon Allen, at Arlington Arts, on Thursday, October 10
REVIEW by BRIAN HARRINGTON
TONIGHT started with a short set from gravel-voiced, folksy singer-songwriter Jon Allen, who at times sounded rather like an early Rod Stewart. His self-penned songs are pleasant, but the lyrics on the whole are unremarkable, with perhaps the exception of the amusing Dead Man’s Suit. PP Arnold is, in my view, a genuine legend.
Performing with a superb eight-piece band, including, and under the musical direction of, Steve Cradock (Ocean Colour Scene and Paul Weller), she was stellar. PP originally came to the UK in 1966 as an Ikette, a backing singer with Ike and Tina Turner, and as she explained, found the less racially segregated music and social scene in London hugely attractive. She soon received an invitation from Mick Jagger to join Immediate Records alongside the likes of Steve Marriott and The Small Faces. Dubbed ‘The First Lady of Immediate’, she recorded two critically-acclaimed albums with a host of the biggest music names of the time. She was involved in the original recordings of Jesus Christ Superstar, toured extensively with Eric Clapton and appeared in Starlight Express. Her work as a backing singer with acts as diverse as Roger Waters (Pink Floyd) and KLF demonstrating the huge respect she enjoys within the music industry.
The world had to wait until 2017 for her third album, a compilation of previously unreleased material from the 60s and until this August for an album of new material – a gap of 51 years after her last original album Kafunta. Superb musical arrangements worked perfectly with PP’s incredible, soaring vocals, which still have all the power they had over 50 years ago, and a wonderfully eclectic setlist including Eleanor Rigby, Different Drum written by Mike Nesmith of The Monkees and Medicated Goo(originally recorded by Traffic) led up to a hauntingly beautiful rendition of Angel Of The Morning, a track written by Chip Taylor, who also wrote Wild Thing. An enthusiastically demanded encore of three more songs ended with her biggest hit The First Cut Is The Deepest.
PP Arnold is so much more than just a soul singer. She is a phenomenon.