I WILL FOLLOW … MAVIS STAPLES TO WIND BACK WEDNESDAY


It’s coming closer, the return to live music. We shall be released!


Well, we shall be if venues still can afford to operate, if musicians still can afford to perform, if audiences can get off their couches – with vaccination proof in hand – and populate the rooms.


As a reminder of what’s coming, and what’s been, Wind Back Wednesday is elevated to 2008 and the glorious Miss Mavis Staples making one of her (then) frequent visits to Australia.

Want a refresher on the joys of live music? She’ll take you there.

MAVIS STAPLES

The Factory Theatre, March 18


Some veterans most definitely don't deserve the attention but suck it up each time. And hello to you gentlemen of Kiss and a certain Mr Osbourne. Some veterans absolutely deserve it but inexplicably are ignored. And greetings to you Mr Ray Davies and Mr Maceo Parker.


Some meander along on little more than brand recognition (yes Mr Cocker) while some find good work is white-anted by a previous brand (indeed Mr Reyne). There is no fairness, and probably no rhyme nor reason either: it is what it is.


So there's no point really in comparing 50something Sharon Jones, who last week filled the Enmore Theatre with an audience dominated by a dancing and sweating Gen Y, and 60something Mavis Staples, who played to a smaller, seated, predominantly post-boomer/pre-Gen X audience.



Except maybe to say that even with only 60 per cent of the voice which once filled churches, halls and stadiums in her prime (there is a lot more gravel in that instrument and much less soaring), with a show that never really threatened to raise the "can I get a witness" gospel roof, and the absence of a strong vocal foil, Staples is streets ahead when it comes to charisma, gravitas and emotional power. One played soul; the other one has it.


Of course it helps to have the quality of song on which Staples can draw. Keep Your Eyes On the Prize, Down In Mississippi, Respect Yourself and even The Weight ("by The Band y'all") is not a bad basis upon which to build a show.


Add Why Am I Treated So Bad, where the otherwise polite band took an exploratory and vigorous excursion towards funk which prepared the ground for the very satisfying R&B of Freedom Highway, and a bring-on-the-heavenly-choirs I'll Take You There, and half your work is done.


But you've still got to sell it and even at less than peak performance, when Mavis Staples leads you through We Shall Not Be Moved ("just like a tree that's planted by the water, we shall not be moved") you do find yourself following.