The words, great, and legend are used a lot, especially in the world of blues music. They could both have permanent residence attached to Mavis Staples. At 82 years old, Mavis Staples Has achieved so much in her life. As part of The Staples Singers alongside her Father and sisters, she became part of blues and gospel folklore. I had an amazing opportunity to see firsthand this living legend in what is being billed as the greatest music venue in the world.
Words: Stephen Harrison Venue: Union Chapel Forum, London
The ambiance of Union Chapel in Islington is second to none, the beautiful stained glass windows, the amazing architecture, and the feel of something spiritual is something that I’ve not felt anywhere else. Teddy Grossman was the support act, a fine singer-songwriter from America, who may well have a bright future ahead of him.
At 9.00 pm Mavis Staples took to the stage, and a resounding standing ovation greeted her. The first number was Wonderful Saviour, a very apt choice given the surroundings. With her band, 2 backing singers, a bass, drummer, and guitarist, Mavis gave a performance few could get anywhere near. Her energy, she drains every last emotion of every song, it felt as though you were witnessing a sermon of blues and gospel.
Respect Yourself, Wade In The Water has long been part of her repertoire, but for me, a first-time witness, this was as good as it gets. The band almost seemed to be a choir, waiting, ready to join the feeling of good that enveloped the building. Harmonies were excellent, individual playing was as good as I’ve seen in a long time. This was the epitome of blues and gospel music delivered by a performer and activist, the likes we’ll not see for a long time.
To finish, there was only really one song that the crowd wanted to hear, I’ll Take You There. Let me tell you, she took the whole congregation, myself included to somewhere I’d not been to before. I doubt I’ll be the same person after this night.
UNION CHAPEL FORUM, LONDON
17TH JUNE 2022 SETLIST
Just Another Soldier
Handwriting On The Wall
Who Told You That
Can You Get To That
Eyes On The Prize
Wade In The Water
Let’s Do It Again
Touch A Hand
I’ll Take You There