Joss Stone comes home to a live orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall
The soul singer of our generation has returned to the UK from her extensive Total World Tour, which commenced in 2014, in aid of the Joss Stone Foundation, which raises awareness for charities in the countries where she performed. Having played alongside Burt Bacharach and his orchestra back in 2016, Ms Stone and her fellow musicians graced the Royal Festival Hall for her homecoming gig and to relive this magical collaboration. As Joss Stone said when she opened her set, she also wanted to convince the songsmith to work with her again. With a performance like this, we think she probably got the job.
Joss started her set with 'Walk On By' and 'Close To You', holding us all captive with her enchanting control and sensitivity delivering these Bacharach classics. After these gentle openers, we got the full force of Stone's dynamite vocal power when, after humbly commenting how a 5-year-old MJ perhaps sang it better, she burst into a raunchy rendition of 'Who's Lovin' You'.
Interspersed throughout the Bacharach extravaganza were favourites from her own back catalogue, including 'Nothing At All', an acoustic version of 'Landlord', and her most recent release, 'We Are The Oceans', in collaboration with the charity of the same name.
The set summed up Stone's array of influences and styles, with hip hoppy flavours thrown into Bacharach's 'In 'Between The Heartaches', thanks to her marvellous singing drummer, and a medley merging 'Midnight Train To Georgia/Say A Little Prayer/It's A Man's Man's Man's World'. As if that wasn't enough of a treat, we were then instructed to get up and shake it (no one disobeys someone with a voice like that) for the finale of foot-stomping shoulder-wigglers. The sold-out theatre was full of groovers, impressively so for such a sit-down venue. By far the most involved audience member was a little girl, no older than 10, who got up onto the stage and danced like a pro, leaving even the chatty Ms Stone speechless, during 'Young Hearts Run Free'.
Following the high-energy 'Super Duper Love', 'Don't Cha Wanna Ride', 'You Got The Love' and 'Bad Habit', the evening was brought to a close with a song that Joss remembered as being too young to sing as a 12-year-old at an audition - 'You Make Me Feel (Like A Natural Woman)'. Of course an encore quickly followed, with Joss Stone finishing on her classic track 'Right To Be Wrong' to a standing ovation.
Apart from the magic of the orchestra, the band, the songs, and the voice, the concert could not have been the personal and uplifting experience that it was without Stone's warm, conversational charm. What a difference it makes to spend the evening with performers of such a high calibre, but such an honest, unguarded rapport with the audience.
Joss Stone has collaborated with Nitin Sawhney (guitar), Jonathan Joseph (drums), Étienne M'Bappé (bass/guitar) and Jonathan Shorten (keyboards) to form the eclectic supergroup, Project Mama Earth, whose debut EP, Mama Earth, will be released on November 10 2017.