The Philly Sound comes to the Philharmonic! Words and Pictures John W. King.
One of the things I’ve learned from going to music festivals is that it often pays to step out of your comfort zone, see bands that in the normal run of things you maybe wouldn’t see.
For example, at my first Glastonbury as I wandered around in awe of the place, there seemed to be a lot of partying going on in one of the tents, so I managed to get in, only to recoil in indie-snob horror as I realised it was Chas N Dave! But as I tried to I sneak out before anybody saw me, I thought to myself “I know this one” and started singing along, indeed I seemed to know the words to all of their songs (no idea how that happened, honest!) and I ended up dancing and singing down the front. Ok I’d had a few ciders, but it was fun.
Likewise, The Stylistics aren’t a band I’d automatically think of going to see in the normal run of things. Don’t get me wrong, I like their songs, but I’m more an Indie / Electronic / Reggae / Rock kinda dude 🙂
So when I had the opportunity to review their show, I jumped at the chance to see what I was missing.
They are clearly a band who know their audience – there was a lot of talk between songs of “going back” and nostalgia. They formed in 1968, 49 years ago and released their first album in 1971. When they asked how many people had bought it when first released, there was a surprising number of people who put up their hands.
Not to say that the audience were all old enough to remember them in the 1970s, there was a wider range of ages than I expected.
I always thought their biggest hit was Betcha By Golly, Wow which they played 3rd in their set. But the biggest reaction of the night was for “Sing Baby Sing”. There was a special moment where I was watching an elderly couple, who’s faces lit up when the song was announced and they got up to dance. It was a privilege to see the joy on their faces! A song that’s probably been special to them for 40 years or so.
You can’t imagine people reacting the same way in 30 or 40 years to, I don’t know, Clean Bandit or someone like that! They certainly don’t do love songs like they used to!
Not being hugely knowledgeable about the band, I didn’t realise they had quite so many hits – I recognised and enjoyed them all.
They’ve got the songs, they’ve got the moves, they’ve got the harmonies, they’ve got the attitude, and above all, it was fun!
Although it was a seated gig, most of the audience were up dancing to the biggest hits.
Often at gigs most of the audience you can imagine having said “such and such are playing tonight, will we go and see them?”. Here, you could tell 99% of the audience are massive fans. It’s no wonder tonight was sold out.
They said they Love Liverpool (I bet that doesn’t go down well when they play Manchester 😉 ) and it was clear tonight that Liverpool, at least those gathered in the room, loved them back.