GIG REVIEW – STONE FOUNDATION
The month of May saw the return to London of the Midland’s finest band – the mighty Stone Foundation. Camden’s Jazz Cafe was the venue and London Guitar Academy gig reviewer Paul Wood and LGA’s very own James Stratton were there to see one of the buzzing names at the moment.
The Jazz Cafe date was part of a short European tour by the band which included dates in France, Germany and the Czech Republic as well as the UK.
The band treated the sold out crowd to a set which was a mixture of old favourites and new material from the band’s upcoming album “A Life Unlimited” – nine of the ten new tracks get an airing on the night, and they’re all goodies!
Simon Wells did a short opening set, preceded and followed by tunes spun by DJ Robert Elms (BBC London). You can always tell the quality of the DJ by the songs on offer – and anyone who plays a Eddie Hinton track is clearly on the right musical lines as far as I’m concerned.
By the time Stone Foundation appear the place is packed. First off is the one new track that fans may have already heard – “Beverley” – the song/video of which has already appeared as part of the pre-launch for the new album. The song features in a new film of the same name, produced by Cass Pennant and directed by Alexander Thomas. The film is about a mixed-race girl growing up in Leicester in the 2-Tone era. Here’s a link to the official video:
Next up is cruncher from the “To Find The Spirit” album – “Bring Back The Happiness” – the band move up the gears on this one (and a key change), with the horn section (including new man Adam Stevens) demonstrating why the band are currently one of the best live club attractions in the UK. Here’s a link to the official video:
Early favourite “No More The Fool” leads the way into a trio of songs from the new album – “Learning The Hard Way”, “Pushing Your Love” (great use of dynamics in this number and a top class vocal from Neil Jones) and “The Night Teller”.
The crowd then get the title track from last year’s “To Find The Spirit” and another new number (“These Life Stories”) before a rather tasty conga intro from Rob Newton leads into the mid set masterpiece of “Don’t Let The Rain” with its excellent bass line from Neil Sheasby, alto sax solo from Gary Rollins and dramatic vocal call/response interaction between the band and audience.
Long time classic “Tracing Paper” (“this one’s for the dancers” shouts out Neil Jones) is followed by a number (the title of which now escapes me) with a keyboard intro from Ian Arnold on his Nord Electro 3. We then get two other newbies (“A Love Uprising” and “Something In The Light”) before the band close the set with the pure drama of “That’s The Way I Want To Live My Life”. Here’s a link to the official video:
There’s no way the band are leaving the Jazz Cafe without an encore and Neil Jones initially comes back on stage alone to thank the audience and to ask for a little quiet for the first encore. This will be the closing track (Old Partners, New Dances) from the new album and it features just Gareth John on trumpet and Ian Arnold on keyboards. A brave choice to follow the pure adrenalin rush of “Life” with a very atmospheric and quiet piece – but it’s conclusion brings a loud cheer from the crowd. If you haven’t heard it yet, the new number has got the same feel of (say) Springsteen’s “Meeting Across The River” from “Born To Run” – a poignant moment amongst the larger than life stories that sit around it.
The full band is back for second encore “Speak Your Piece” but Neil Jones has ditched the guitar and he testifies across the stage like a man possessed. Drummer Phil Ford keeps it all together like the Mighty Max Weinberg and the band close the night in style. Awesome roars greet the finale. Nobody at the Jazz Cafe is going to forget this concert in a hurry. If the band comes anywhere near your town – go see them.
The new album “A Life Unlimited” is available on pre-sale in various formats with bonus tracks from:
Neil Jones – Vocals/Guitar
Neil Sheasby – Bass
Philip Ford – Drums
Ian Arnold – Keyboard
Gary Rollins, Gareth John, and Adam Stevens– Horn section
Rob Newton – Congas, Percussion.
Bring Back The Happiness
No More The Fool
Learning The Hard Way
Pushing Your Love
The Night Teller
To Find The Spirit
These Life Stories
Don’t Let The Rain
A Love Uprising
Something In The Light
That’s The Way I Want To Life My Life
Old Partners, New Dances
Speak Your Piece