TWO sell-out shows at Ronnie Scott’s on a Monday night is overwhelming evidence of Vanessa Haynes’ drawing power.
A soul singer who continues to enjoy great success with UK jazz band Incognito, Haynes has been widely acclaimed for her tribute to the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin. And on evidence of her performance at Ronnie Scott’s on July 25, it’s easy to see why. She nailed it.
Her polished non-stop performance bristled with energy as she poured her heart and soul – and a little bit more – into Franklin’s music. All helped by a wonderful band and superb backing vocals. For an hour and a half, she literally immersed herself in Franklin and it was all rather thrilling on both the ear and the eye. It wasn’t a tribute, but more a homage to Franklin’s vast songbook.
Haynes did justice to many of the big Franklin hits – songs such as Respect, I Say A Little Prayer, You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman and Freedom. But she was not frightened to perform some of Franklin’s lesser known songs – and it is these where Haynes demonstrated her Midas touch.
The likes of Day Dreaming, Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing (Haynes on keyboards and supported only by backing vocals), a fantastic Spirit In The Dark, Until You Come Back To Me, a tear jerking Ain’t No Way (amazing backing vocals) and a mesmerising Save Me – infused with lashings of trombone from the talented Tom O’Grady.
Haynes surrounds herself with splendid musicians, many drawn from Incognito – O’Grady excelling on organ and keyboards, Martyn Kaine marshalling everything expertly on drums and Sid Gauld sublime on trumpet. Yet it’s the backing vocals that provided the icing on the cake with Mary Pearce and Hayley Sanderson excelling.
Probably the magic moment of the night was when Haynes was joined on stage by Nick Shirm to sing I Knew You Were Waiting. A thrilling duet that did full justice to the song made famous by Franklin and George Michael.
Haynes is a polished and dazzling performer who knows how to whip an audience into a frenzy. Live music at its very best.