BUCKING all the prevailing pop trends - apart from the resurgence of interest in classic soul music – Sharon Jones is a wonderful anomaly, a lifelong soul grafter who sang in Seventies funk bands and mostly got by with session work until finding success in middle age with the backing of the Dap-Kings, an effortlessly limber eight-piece combo who provided the authentic brass backdrop on Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black album.

Together, they are a soul revue powerhouse to put sanitised young pretenders Bruno Mars and Aloe Blacc firmly in the shade – can I get a “sho’nuff”?

Their cathartic performance was powered by the dazzling dexterity, precision timing and unbridled spirit of the playing as much as observance of trad stylings such as the liberally deployed “funky drummer” beat, the joyous Philly brass breaks or the smattering of snake-hipped guitar on the glorious She Ain’t A Child No More.

Jones herself was a formidable force – she spent her lean years honing that art as a prison officer on New York’s Rikers Island – but, when required, she tempered the testifying fire and rock’n’roll rasp with a bluesy vulnerability, all the rawer for the revelation that her mother had passed away that morning.

Drawing on the delighted audience for succour – and dance partners – and displaying both humour and fortitude throughout, she proudly embodied the belief that the show must go on.

It was our pleasure and privilege that it did.

Rating: *****


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