Celtic Connections review: Bobby Womack, Glasgow

BOBBY Womack was asking for a witness. He had plenty of those at this most anticipated of Celtic Connections shows.

Bobby Womack. Picture: Contributed
Bobby Womack. Picture: Contributed

Bobby Womack

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

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Star rating: * * * *

The declarations of love were hollered back from the floor the moment his band took it down for the first time. That’s what a lifetime of bittersweet soul music and a natty red leather suit and cap can get you.

The 69-year-old soul legend has not been in the best of health in recent times but performing appeared to be the perfect prescription as he and his ample ensemble led the audience on an impish trip through his back catalogue, from the easygoing R&B of Harry Hippie to the slick smooch of I Wish He Didn’t Trust Me So Much. Sadly, there was no outing for his sublime version of California Dreaming but he dug deep on the haunting Bravest Man In The Universe and gospel standard Deep River.

There was inevitable wear and tear on the voice but something innately soulful in his delivery, like a man hanging on for dear life. Across 110th Street was the soft sound of a tough hustle, while the grit of his vocal on A Change Is Gonna Come rubbed up deliciously against the sweetness of the arrangement.

The sound balance was not always favourable and the blend neither as rich nor punchy as one might have hoped for, but Womack’s personality, entertaining ad libs with his formidable backing singers and connection to his lyrics won the day.

Seen on 27.01.14