LIVE: Mavis Staples / Joan Osborne @ Proctors, 11/6/15

November 16th, 2015, 4:00 pm by Greg
Joan Osborne and Mavis Staples

Mavis Staples and Joan Osborne

Review by Don Wilcock
Photographs by Rudy Lu

OK, I admit it. My expectations for the Mavis Staples/Joan Osborne concert at Proctors last weekend were way over the top. I have seen transcendent performances by both artists, who, at their best, grab their audiences by the throat and take them to heaven not just in their great songs, but with their personalities that cause you to fall in love with them through their intimate connections and amazing vocal prowess.

The idea that these two beautiful souls would collaborate had me fantasizing that together one plus one would equal infinity, an explosive fusion of two great sirens, one black, one white; one a legend of the civil rights movement – the moral equivalent of Martin Luther King – the other a waif from Kentucky who spent years woodshedding with the Holmes Brothers to channel the blues giants and erase society’s imposed boundaries between gospel, blues and pop. Osborne is a vocal dynamo who turned me into a believer more than two decades ago when she blew the roof of The Metro in Saratoga with a version of Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Help Me” that transformed his dirty old man ballad into an erotic orgasm.

Of course, all that hope of an epic collaboration was fantasy. Four days before their major U.S. tour opened in the famed Fillmore in San Francisco, Osborne had yet to rehearse with Staples. She told me they had yet to even get together and talk about the tour. By the time the show hit Schenectady, they’d done 20 shows in a little over a month, and Mavis chided her “Skin–eck–at–diddy” audience: “I believe this is my first time here. What took you so long? You should have had us before now. You let me get older.”

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LIVE: Joan Osborne @ The Egg, 4/1/12

April 5th, 2012, 4:00 pm by Greg
Joan Osborne

Joan Osborne

Review by Richard Brody
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

It was April Fool’s Day on Sunday, but there were no fools in the sold-out Swyer Theater at The Egg in Albany. Everyone there had come for a party, and as Joan Osborne moved onto the stage with every part of her body in sensual motion and dug into “I’m Qualified,” there was absolute certainty that they were in the right place.

Ms. Osborne was in FINE voice, and the 90-minute set was heavy with songs from her very recently released CD “Bring It On Home.” This is a tactic that might not work for many performers, but Ms. Osborne’s fans were up for anything she wanted to do, and with the help of her superb band, she received the first of several standing ovations early in the set for her rendering of Slim Harpo’s “Shake Your Hips.” The song featured “Barbecue” Bob Pomeroy who delivered several scorching harmonica solos that soared over the fat bottom supplied by drummer Aaron Comess and bassist Richard Hammond.

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