I first saw Curtis Stigers four years ago by accident. I was dragged there under sufferance by my then-girlfriend. Remembering him from his early 90's heyday, I fully expected a dire evening. I'm glad to say all my apprehensions were wrong as he put on a truly brilliant performance that night. I've long since split up with the girlfriend, but I've returned to see Stigers at Ronnie Scott's jazz bar every year since, where he does a week-long stint each summer, as an unashamed fan and convert.

It may surprise some to learn that Stigers has re-invented himself as a true jazz musician, and is all the better for it. He is a truly talented performer and a real joy to watch, effortlessly blending a powerful rangy voice with cuttingly dry wit and self-deprecating humour.

I saw Stigers again at Ronnie Scott's, accompanied by his regular band. As soon as they appeared on stage the band were clearly in control, but in no way seemed arrogant. Although the majority of the crowd were there for Stigers, the band clicked incredibly well. From the outset it was obvious to see that they were really jamming, getting into the atmosphere and enjoying the music they were playing. Stigers has a good rapport between his band and the audience alike. There was particularly strong banter between him and trumpeter John 'Scrapper' Sneider. At one point he acknowledged his association with the dying mullet fad of 1992, but insisted it was really Bono who was truly to blame.

Although obviously a master of off-the-cuff comedy and never short of something to say, Stigers favours sad, poignant songs, with plenty of dark moments and lots of sex (as he put it); which again, he pulled off with a great sense of irony, while still conveying the songs' original meanings.

Stigers and his band are well suited to Ronnie Scott's, a venue that is always dark and intimate, and without a bad seat in the house. The audience always feels drawn in, like they are part of the performance.

Previously I have only seen them perform on the last night (the late performance on Fridays), where Stigers would let his hair down. Pardon the pun. The long hair incidentally has also been discarded along with his old musical agenda. This time round, I saw Stigers play on the Tuesday night - the second show of his short stay - and I'm glad to report that it was just as electric as any of the Fridays I have attended before.

The band played two long sets, including two Bob Dylan covers, two by Nick Drake and one by the Beatles - all in the band's own inimitable style. Missing gems from the set include 'Rocking Down on 10th and Main' and 'Dirty Water'.

The highlight song of the night was undoubtedly his cover of Dylan's 'Something Changed', taken from the 'Wonder Boys' soundtrack. Appropriately enough, it was hugely popular in the mid 90s.

A true crowd pleaser at heart, he even played two of his classic early hits for which he became famed. He knew many of those in the crowd were there to hear them, but couldn't resist the opportunity to turn them on their head… again with plenty of panache and humour.

Do not be put off by the name - Curtis Stigers is a class act.

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Commenting On: Ronnie Scott's. London, 26/6/2012 - Curtis Stigers

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