Gig review: Geno Washington & The Ram Jam Band

The voice may have changed, but Geno gave us his best. Picture: Adam Elder
The voice may have changed, but Geno gave us his best. Picture: Adam Elder
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GENO Washington possesses a pop cultural cachet which speaks loudly to UK listeners of a certain age.

Geno Washington & The Ram Jam Band - Rio Café, Glasgow

****

A soul singer of formidable talent from Evansville, Indiana, his sound crossed over to the mod and eventually the Northern Soul scenes in the late 60s. It was he whom Kevin Rowland was (kind of) eulogising in Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ Geno, his performance leading a whole generation to imagine just how good the singer who inspired this song must be.

Here, in a temporary basement bar in Merchant Square, freshly painted for the Glasgow International Jazz Festival and boasting a hot, underground vibe, those of us still waiting to hear Geno Washington in the flesh got our chance.

The experience was perhaps at odds with the one we may have expected, for the irrepressible 70-year-old’s voice has matured almost beyond recognition from the honey-layered bellow he employed in his youth, but it was still a performance of distinction.

Behind him a five-piece band mixing youth and maturity played soul standards with itchy-footed exuberance, and out front Washington – bald, goateed, with an open-neck shirt – employed marshalled vocal power where control over the softer notes might not have been so in evidence.

“I thought I could just take the money and run,” he laughed in jovial ‘I can’t go on’ fashion at the end, but his shining brow and the subsequent powerhouse medley of Everybody Needs Somebody and Jumpin’ Jack Flash told a different story of a truly hard-working show.

Seen on 25.06.14