The legendary Delta Lady Rita Coolidge made her hugely anticipated return to London this week with a four night residency at Boisdale of Canary Wharf. As the ever elegant Ms Coolidge took to the stage for what would be her last performance of the run, she was greeted by the clanging of cutlery as diners rushed to applaud the songstress, half way through their dinner. The venue is most definitely a restaurant first and foremost. Service isn't stopped during the performance nor does anyone (Waiter or Diner) keep conversation to a minimum throughout. Those dining most definitely get preferential treatment and are allowed to sit anywhere they like, which one can understand to a point. However, those that are not dining and are there just for the show are made to sit at the very back of the room, so far back, in fact, that one should come equipped with binoculars and a ticket for third class carriage. Hold on tight! The irony in this is that it seems to be the real enthusiasts and supporters of Coolidge are those that are sat at the back. Such is life!

Anyway...Rita Coolidge is here tonight to showcase her brand new album, 'Safe in the Arms of Time' and as you'd expect, tonight's set list draws heavily from the album. It is a well balanced set with enough 'hits' intertwined with the new material to keep your average 'Greatest Hits' album buyer happy. However, the new album is nothing short of a masterpiece and it translates incredibly well to the live stage. It surpases all expectations even if you are expecting the usual brilliance that you get from a Rita Coolidge album. She is sounding better and more relevant than ever on this latest work. It seems that Rita is finally getting the recognition and respect that she deserves. I'm not sure that she's ever been desperately under appreciated as such but more and more artists are coming out of the woodwork and seem dying to work with her. It seems that they have been lining up to write songs for Rita which have ended up on this collection. The great Chris Stapleton and the legendary Graham Nash, are just two of the artists who have written tracks for the new album which are featured here tonight. In fact, the Graham Nash/Russ Kunkel penned, 'Doing Fine Without You' is a powerhouse of a song which really showcases the strength of Rita's band this evening. Rita has also co-written three of the twelve tracks on the new album. One of those tracks is the wonderful, 'Walking on Water' which she co-wrote with the equally brilliant Keb' Mo'.

Of course we are treated to a selection of hits from Rita's extensive back catalogue. Rita really sings the definitive version of the Bonnie Bramlett/Leon Russell classic, 'Superstar', a song about a 'superstar' who pledges his undying love to a groupie and promises to return to her. I wonder how that worked out? The song is said to be inspired by none other than Eric Clapton who played with Delaney and Bonnie along with Coolidge at the time. The same Eric Clapton who spectacularly failed to give Coolidge a credit on the Derek and the Dominoes monster hit, 'Layla' for which she wrote the Piano Coda. The first time that she realised her Coda was on the record was when she had heard it on the radio!

'We're All Alone' is featured here tonight, as expected, and proves to be yet another highlight of the set. Rita's laid back vocal interpretation of it this evening seems to give the song more depth and meaning than ever before. As the evening comes to a close we are treated to Rita's wonderful version of, 'Your Love Is Lifting Me Higher'. We are reminded of just how versatile she is as an artist. Jazz, Blues, Soul, Country, it's all in there. Then to the last song of the evening, 'Lover Please', a song which Rita recorded in the '70's with her 'favourite ex husband' Kris Kristofferson.

After the performance, it transpires that Rita had no monitors onstage until four songs before the end of the show, "monitoring" being the onstage system which allows you to hear what you are singing. Her voice sounded incredible throughout and yet she couldn't hear her own voice on stage. Amazing.

As a performance, it was flawless. That is surely a testament to the sheer professionalism and concentration of Rita and her band who had to compete against a very noisy backdrop when they really deserved absolute silence and reverence. Boisdale is a nice enough joint but is simply not the right venue for a show of this finesse and will not get my vote.











Related Links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rita_Coolidge
https://en-gb.facebook.com/DeltaLadyRitaCoolidge/
https://ritacoolidge.net/
https://twitter.com/deltaladyrc


Commenting On: Boisdale, London, 17/5/2018 - Rita Coolidge








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