Soul, Funk, Blues: you can’t really have one without a respectable chunk of the other two in the mix. In the wonderful world of music categorisation Candi Staton gets crowbarred into the Soul Diva section, but since the ‘60s she’s been a Gospel singer, an R&B singer, a Disco diva, a Club icon and the First Lady of Southern Soul. Try cramming all of that into 90 minutes in a small hot club when you’re 66. Or perhaps, best not. Better than that, be soulful and funky in kicking off the set with R&B hits from your early career. Then, get the serious Blues in your Soul. Sing to the audience even when you’re talking,
take all the pain, hurt and love in your life and share it with the world (well, the Jazz Caf) in passionate, lyrical dialogue. And finally, crank up the big hits at the end to give your fans what they thought they came for and walk off a confirmed legend. Which is what Candi Staton is. OK, she’s not Aretha Franklin, but then Jaffa Cakes aren’t quite Chocolate Hobnobs but they still taste damn good.
However, her voice didn’t quite hold up for the full set, the backing band was merely accomplished and the two BIG hits (‘You Got The Love’; ‘Young Hearts Run Free’) not both worthy of their reprises - but even being picky, you knew you were in the presence of an icon whose class showed throughout. Before the vocal range started to tighten (at the bottom end, surprisingly), Candi’s voice was breathtaking – both sharp and rugged as required. Her entrance and exit were both dramatic and endearing. Her style and moves feminine and powerful. Her rapport with her fans meaningful and entertaining. This was a classy performance from a class act.