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Tom Seals At Pizza Express Live

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ALTHOUGH we have not quite got around to the time for New Year predictions to be made, I am quite happy to make one that is a near categorical certainty. Tom Seals’ star will soar stratospherically in 2019, like a Soyuz rocket.

He may only be in his mid-twenties, but Seals is surely destined for greatness. He is Jamie Cullum in the making. Jools Holland on speed. A master of the piano and vocals to pierce your soul. A boogie-woogie genius- and quite charming with it all, happy to mock his red hair.

From the very first moment at Pizza Express Live (Soho) on December 9, Seals demonstrated his huge talent with an upbeat version of Hallelujah I Love Her So (made famous by Ray Charles). It was soon obvious that Seals and his band were going to provide the packed house with more entertainment than available up the road at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland.

They did not disappoint as Seals rattled through his numbers, often not pausing for breath as songs smoothly blended into one another. Seal’s piano and vocals perfectly complemented by the exceptional Ross Stanley on Hammond organ and Sam Healey on saxophone. Lending great support were Joel Barford on drums, Nick Bayes on bass and Sam Barrett on guitar.

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Seals’ interpretation of Nina Simone’s I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free sent shivers down the spine – Healey’s saxophone intermittently weeping away – while I Don’t Get Around Much Anymore transformed into Billy Joel’s New York State of Mind without anyone quite noticing the join.

Hey Laura It’s Me (Gregory Porter) was followed by a little festive spirt in the form of Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. Don’t You Know (Jamie Cullum) was beautifully augmented by Stanley’s organ while the mellow A Song For You was yet again enhanced by Healey’s saxophone assaulting the soul. Goosebumps galore.

After Seals acknowledged the influence of Holland in his career (at age 10 he wrote in a diary that he wanted to play piano with Holland) with a thrilling spot of boogie-woogie, he finished his set with The Blues Remain where the audience sang along enthusiastically.

‘Ain’t got no sunshine
Ain’t got no rain
Ain’t got a worry in the world
But the blues remain.’

On this thrilling form, Seals will be ‘remaining’ for quite a while yet. An amazing musical talent. Surely Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club beckons in 2019.


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