LINE UP: Roger Thomas: musical director, arranger, first baritone, rap – Warren Thomas: percussion, guitar, clarinet, third tenor – Roderick (Rod) Eldridge: first tenor, scratching, trumpet – Rickey Cort: fourth tenor, guitar, trumpet, strings, synth – Dwight Stewart: second baritone, vocals, trumpet – Garfield Buckley: second tenor, harmonica – Kevin (Ketz) Mitchell: bass, trumpet
When Naturally 7 open their show with Phil Collins’s “In the air tonight”, one could be forgiven to be a little bit nervous… but of course, being Naturally 7, the opening track is only going to be a mere sign of how grand the show will be.
Naturally 7, all the way from New York (although 3 of the current members were born in the UK), connect immediately with the audience, full of fans, and so eager for the show to start.
It’s quite a start in fact, even the staff at the Club are all standing by the small entrance to the kitchen!
“Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho”, the African-American spiritual song, first composed around 1865, and recorded by many (Mahalia Jackson, Coleman Hawkins (my favourite) and also Elvis!), shows off the band’s jazzy, rapping rendition,
With “Run away with me” (Carly Rae Jepsen), N7 offer a soft ballad approach, never has the human voice sounded so powerful.
The band’s choreography is a treat, too. All their movements are perfectly stylized with an equal amount of energy and grace.
A very different rendition of “Hey Ya” (an addictive creation by OutKast) is an a cappella masterpiece.
At a certain point, even Ronnie Scott’s’ chef pops his head out to have a little peep at the show, in fact it is fair to say that all work seems to have stopped at the Club temporarily as it looks like they are all standing and grooving along with the band.
“While my guitar gently weeps” (by the great George Harrison and an iconic Beatles song as we know it) is a performance that melts ice on the night – with a memorable guitar solo, of course!
Naturally 7 continue performing for over 90 minutes, there is no interval, they keep going on, singing along, playing along. There are references to Bob Marley, a unique rendition of “By the rivers of Babylon”, first recorded by the reggae group, The Melodians in 1970, although most people will know Boney M’s version. One has to point out though that the track has religious origin, the line is in fact from one of the Psalms in the Bible…
There is originality and a fervent desire to perform: N7 (as sometimes they are referred to) offer another beauty “Another you” a ballad by all standards, but full of heart and truthfulness: “there is always someone who will love you, even if we don’t think so”. A few faces in the crowd are moved to tears.
And then for something completely unexpected, Rick Astley, yes, the very one, pops onto the stage to perform his new single with the band. The track, “Keep singing” goes hand in hand with these 7 talented guys, Mr Astley, who is in top shape on the night, reminds the audience how fortunate he is to be singing with such fabulous artists.
More treats as the end of the gig approaches: a Simon and Garfunkel’s song performed with just their voice….no instruments and a Coldplay finale “Fix you”. This has certainly been a perfect fix for this writer, but lo and behold, the audience want more, Naturally 7 come back on stage to sing “Ready or not”, a mad and dangerous tune, a perfect encore followed by a standing ovation.
Hearts are filled with joy, heads with tunes, smiles all round.