FEW things are guaranteed in life. But when Beverley Skeete gets on stage, one thing is for sure. Bums get off seats and hips sway like branches in a gale force wind.
At The Pheasantry on King’s Road in swanky Chelsea on Thursday night (Pizza Express Live), it might have taken a while for the Skeete effect to bite (audiences are usually rather conservative in this part of London). But by the end of the night, everyone was off their feet and dancing as if they were at the Hacienda nightclub in Manchester. Magic. Frenzied. Fun.
Skeete is born to entertain. She’s vibrant, she has attitude and she brings a genuine passion to her music. Edgy with a smile.
In Kevin Leo, she also has a formidable musical partner who knows how to play an audience. He flirts, he waves his handkerchief around as if he is Louis Armstrong, and he can’t half belt out a ballad or two. Women swoon, ears go into receptive mode, and the room temperature goes up a notch or two. A wonderful double act. One a foil for the other.
Armed with her new album Liberty (produced in conjunction with Neil Pyzer) Skeete was on magical form as she interlaced tracks from Liberty with some classic funk and soul songs.
A raunchy I Just Want To Make Love To You (Etta James) set the tone for the evening, showcasing Skeete’s spine tingling voice. It was followed by Can’t Do Right (For Doing Wrong), the album’s opening track – enthusiastically welcomed by the audience. Do Your Thing (Issac Hayes) was funky and sensual while We Need Love (featuring Brit funk legend Paul McLean) had most people off their feet – ‘I need you, you need me.’
The Byrds’ Turn Turn Turn (appropriate for the times we live in) was full of emotion:
‘To everything turn, turn, turn
There is a season turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose
After the interval Skeete put heart and soul into Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Gonna Come, while delivering an upbeat My Heaven (taken from her album).
Leo’s contributions were audacious and thrilling: The Girl From Ipanema; a super version of George Ezra’s Shotgun and a thumping good You Positive. There was also a sensual version of Luther Vandross’s Always And Forever, delivered by McLean.
All in all, a super night when the ladies and gentlemen of Chelsea were liberated and let their hair down for once – and danced as if there were no tomorrow to the sounds of Skeete and Leo.