MUSIC REVIEW Ruby is still a soul gem 35 years on and counting

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Ruby Turner and Band

South Holland Centre, Spalding

Friday, February 28

Jamaican-born songstress Ruby Turner has performed with some of the music industry’s biggest names over the last 50 years, including Bryan Ferry, Mick Jagger, UB40 and Culture Club.

But the jazz, soul and blues star has also charted a successful course on her own since 1979, with hits such as I’d Rather Go Blind, If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me), I’m in Love and the US rhythm and blues (R&B) chart-topper It’s Gonna Be Alright.

Turner, who moved to the UK from Jamaica when she was nine, was out to pack a punch in front of a sold-out South Holland Centre, Spalding, on Friday, with most of the audience familiar with her work with Jools Holland and his 18-strong Rhythm and Blues Orchestra.

She said: “Any working musician will say ‘a gig’s a gig,’ whatever the venue, but it’s really lovely to come to a place where I’ve never played before, like Spalding.

“I’ve been around for a long time, but not everybody knows about me so it’s refreshing to come to a proper arts centre and put on a show with a very broad mixture of gospel, soul and jazz.”

Turner’s debut album, Woman Hold Up Half the Sky, was released in 1986 after a spell singing backing vocals with Boy George and Culture Club.

Some 16 albums and countless tours later, she still has the motivation to “Keep on Movin” in the words of another US R&B number one by the UK band Soul II Soul.

Turner said: “You have to be yourself to make people interested in discovering you and your music.

“I’ve never stopped because I never had any reason to stop and after all the years of hard work, I’m very grareful for the payoff I’m having now, although people sometimes say that you make your own fortune.”

More than 300 people who packed out South Holland Centre, Spalding, on Friday would echo those sentiments after arguably one of the most memorable live shows staged by the arts venue in recent years.

Supported by pianist John Ellis, lead guitarist Nick Marland, drummer Simon Moore and Paul Pryor on bass guitar, Ruby stormed to the Turner Prize in Spalding with a show full of verve, vitality and vigour.

The show started with the title track from her 1994 album Restless Moods before moving into the 1967 soul hit Dark Side of the Street, made famous by American guitarist Ry Cooder.

The show then took a dramatic gospel swing with So Amazing, written by Turner for the album of the same name which came out in 2005, Masterplan and This Train, originally sung by Sister Rosetta Tharpe in 1939.

At this stage, South Holland Centre could have been The Lighthouse Church as Turner’s show threatened to turn into a gospel concert, especially Turner followed up This Train with Get Away Jordan by legendary US gospel singer Mahalia Jakcson.

But the audience stayed with her and they were rewarded after the interval with songs like The Sun’s Gonna Shine on My Back Door, another Sis Rosetta Tharpe song Trouble in Mind, You Start a Fire in My Heart and her signature song, I’d Rather Go Blind.

The audience were on their feet at the end, shouting for an encore which duly came with another Turner favourite, If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me).

It’s safe to say that Ruby Turner went down a storm at South Holland Centre and as the lady said herself: “The feeling and reaction I had from the audience felt right, so there’s no reason for me to quit.”

Winston Brown