Live at Fabric, London 14th July 2010
With The Dood frustratingly unable to stay to experience one of the modern era’s true Soul/Jazz vocalist (last train ‘n’ all), it was left to background vocalist to the stars and also black music connoisseur Sarah Nelson to step in to the breach and review this his one-off London gig for UK Vibe.
Drummer: Steve Mickie, Bass: Tone Whitfield, Guitar: Mike Stevenson, Keyboards: Corey Bernhard – this band are ‘Air Tight!’ With both drummer and guitarist sharing backing vocals, it was a strong sound. This handsome slender man, Bilal, hits the stage ready! The crowd bellow as both men and women rush forward.
He kicked things off with ‘Free’ segueing into ‘Hey Hey.’ Bilal has an amazing vocal ability diving and soaring from mid to low to high vocal ranges within 0 – 5 seconds. As the strains of ‘Something to Hold On To’ waft in, the crowd start screaming! Now on a roll he moves onto ‘Reminisce’, ‘Cake and Eat It Too’, ‘Think It Over’. He is breezing through these tracks effortlessly! Boy does he put on a show!
Imagine Prince, Maxwell, JB, Bobby Womack and Hendrix without his guitar all on stage in one person! His vocal abilities are boundless – a mind blowing act to witness. I have seen nothing like it!
He has a soulful, Funk ‘n’ Rock infusion sound that just grabs you from start to finish. A rapid fire selection of classics ‘Now for Love,’ ‘Restart,’ ‘Since I’ve Been Lovin’ You,’ ‘U Matter,’ ‘White turns to Grey,’ ‘Sometimes,’ ‘Levels,’ carried the Bilal faithful and converts toward his final song ‘Soul Sista.’ At one stage he was laying on his back singing! He is all that and a bag of chips WITH THE DIP!!
He commands the crowd and has an awesome stage presence. He introduced the band members in true James Brown stylee, voice ‘n’ all! Funny! He engages the crowd, owning and oozing sex appeal! He is HOT property! The most amazing show ever! We love you Bilal! He is a Man on Fire!
He performed a two hour set (12am to 2am) without gasping for air! This show was outstanding!! 20 out of 10! Yes I said it 20 out of 10!
Sarah Johanna Nelson
Bilal: Essential Albums:
New album ‘Air Tight’s Revenge’ released 14th September 2010
‘Love for Sale’ – 2006
‘1st Born Second’ – 2001