Great American Soul Book - Grand Theatre, Blackpool
Even with a combined age of 143 neither Gary US Bonds or Ben E King show any sign of spending their twilight years whittling on their respective front porches.
All right, perhaps the former Drifters member may be a little less nimble on his feet than in those choreographed days of yore and Gary’s added a few pounds since Bruce Springsteen helped re-establish him some 20 years after his original hits’ hey days but both men still know how to put on a show.
Backed by an excellent eight-piece band otherwise known as The Gas both singers sprinkle their own hits into two sets each which also pay tribute to the likes of Marvin Gaye, Sam and Dave, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Jackie Wilson and others.
Of the two it’s the less famous Gary US Bonds who has kept the fuller range of his voice – and his two biggest hits, Quarter To Three and New Orleans are still floor fillers with their wall of sound production and belting brass section.
King can still cope with deeper notes and slower numbers – such as the wonderful Stand By Me – but he’s a little less easy managing the full range of Spanish Harlem and Don Play That Song (You Lied).
But it’s the songs as much as the singers people want to hear – and there are plenty of them in a night where memories are made of hits.