"You've Really Got a Hold on Me" - The Miracles, 1962
As I wrote yesterday, John and I went to see Rumer last night at Oxford's beautiful New Theatre. And she certainly didn't disappoint! I'm not a very good concert/gig reviewer, but I'll do my best here.
I expected her voice to be as beautiful (or even more beautiful) live. And it was. I expected her to have a terrific backing band and singers. And she did. I expected a good mix of her own songs and covers. And there was.
In fact, it was her choice of covers which made the show even more special. John and I both absolutely loved her version of David Wiffen's "Driving Wheel" (sometimes called "Lost My Driving Wheel")! Rumer proved that she can sing country-rock, that's for sure, and the song could be in the repertoire of Robert Earl Keen! "Goodbye Girl" and "Sara Smile" were excellent, too. I was happily surprised when the band played the opening chords of a favorite of mine, "You've Really Got a Hold on Me", and Rumer seemed so comfortable with R&B as well.
But my favorite cover - and a song I didn't know before last night - was her version of Gil Scott-Heron's "Lady Day and John Coltrane", which she did as the second encore! (And I've just bought the CD featuring his original version of this song.) It showcased Rumer's talents as well as those of the band and singers up on stage with her.
Rumer's stage presence is so charmingly understated and natural. I hope that some record-company "image consultant" doesn't try to alter her quiet reserve on stage. I felt that she made a strong connection with the audience; she spoke just enough, and her beautiful smile was contagious. Both John and I thought that her glorious voice got stronger and stronger as the show progressed...something that her cover of "Alfie" really showcased.
Did I cry during "Slow", as I'd predicted yesterday? Yes I did. But I cried more during "Aretha"...and during "Thankful". The lyrics to the latter got to me, down deep, even more when I heard Rumer perform the song only yards from where we were sitting.
I chose Smokey's song as the title to this blog post because it says everything about how I feel having seen Rumer live. She does indeed really have a hold on me.
And it would be remiss to not mention the opening act, The Golden Retrievers. Ahead of last night's show, I had bought their four-song EP on iTunes. John and I listened to the songs a lot last week. The article that I linked already talks about the comparisons to Bread, CSN, and James Taylor. As I listened to them last night, I couldn't help but think about early Eagles, with David Gates as the lead singer (odd as that might sound)! My favorite of their songs was "Four Track Tapes", a song about why people keep chugging away in the music business. I haven't heard such a great song about that topic since Chuck Coleman's charming "Brian Played Guitar"!