The Lantern, Bristol Colston Hall
This is the same set that this pair have been touring on and off for 20 years, but that’s exactly why everyone’s come in the first place – it’s not a gig where “play some new!” is likely to be heard. So they shamble on stage to warm applause, Dan Penn quietly berates the roadie for not adjusting his mic properly, then turns to Spooner and says “Ready Maestro?”, and we’re off.
What follows is 90 minutes of heaven for fans of Memphis music. Penn’s voice is still in good shape, while Spooner may give a good impression of a man who no longer knows what day it is, but he still plays the keyboard like it’s a extension of his body. Between songs we get anecdotes straight out of a BBC 4 rock doc, about the stuff they’ve written and the people they’ve worked with.
Highlights? ‘The Dark End of the Street’ obviously, and ‘I Met Her in Church’ is still one of the best secular gospel songs ever written. I’d never made the connection before, but the storytelling in many of these songs has parallels with Bill Withers – high praise indeed. After a final run through of ‘Zero Willpower’, they depart to a standing ovation.
Mostly over 50s, and clearly marked out as Americana fans from their clothes. A bootleg tie was spotted.
It made me think..
You need to catch veterans like this while they’re still around – where is today’s equivalent who’ll be pulling a crowd half a century from now?