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MUSIC REVIEW: The Soft Tone Needles, Sweet Soul Music Night, South Holland Centre, Spalding

If the number of people on the dance floor at Spalding's South Holland Centre on Saturday night is anything to go by, The Soft Tone Needles are playing a winning hand.

The ten-piece northern soul specialists, with members from South Holland, West Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, were genuinely in the groove at Tulips Promotions' annual event which previously took place at Springfields Events and Conference Centre.

Drummer Dave Jackson said: "We've been through a patch where everyone has doing their own thing.

The Soft Tone Needles at South Holland Centre, Spalding. (7441592)
The Soft Tone Needles at South Holland Centre, Spalding. (7441592)

"For example, the horns team has been touring with blues guitarist Danny Bryant and so it's been a case of 'where the stars align' with us because everyone had projects on.

"But if we get the opportunity to play together, it kind of takes precedence over everything else."

Kat Brittain, the band's lead singer, somehow managed to keep up an energy-sapping pace, with songs that have stood the test of time, such as Reach Out, I'll Be There (The Four Tops), Get Ready (The Temptations) and a shopping list of soul classics from Edwin Starr, including Stop On Her Sight (SOS), Twenty Five Miles and My Weakness is You.

Dave said: "We were doing a few more commercial tracks, even though it's really hard to judge the crowd when you nail some of the older stuff."

But there are three essential elements that make The Soft Tone Needles unique and, no doubt, the go-to dance band for Tulips Promotion.

First, the specialism in northern soul itself where such "stars" as Millie Jackson (My Man, A Sweet Man) Ann Sexton (You've Been Gone Too Long), Frank Wilson (Do I Love You - Indeed I Do) and Sam Williams (Love Slipped Through My Fingers) are brought to life.

Second, the quality of the musicianship which includes South Holland representation from saxophonist Mark Wilkinson, drummer Dave Jackson, both of Long Sutton, and Holbeach guitarist Jack Johnson.

Third, the commitment to their cause which brings trombone player Alex Maddison up to Spalding from his studies at the Academy of Contemporary Music in Surrey.

Dave said: "Northern soul is a big thing in this area which is why, while people are still backing us, we're always happy to play together.

"Also, I was exposed to soul music before I was exposed to rock music which were dirty words in our house.

"When we have a rehearsal together, it's like a big family gathering and we kind of bat off each other because we like playing together which makes a big difference.

"I've been in bands where it's not been so exciting, but The Soft Tone Needles are a unit and the musicians I play alongside are all good dudes.

"We've been talking about doing an album because there's a lot of writing going and some of the band members write a lot of musical arrangements as well."

On the evidence of last Saturday night, The Soft Tone Needles take an approach to their craft that chimes with a northern soul classic from the late Nashville singer Dobie Gray who left it "Out On The Floor".

. The Soft Tone needles are Kat Brittain (vocals), Mark Wilkinson and Lauren Young (saxophone), David Maddison (trumpet), Alex Maddison (trombone), Jack Johnson (guitar), Dave Jackson (drums and vocals), Eddie Edwards (bass guitar), Dan Sheehan (keyboard) and Andy Davies (percussion).

Review and interview by Winston Brown


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