LIVE REVIEW Booker T Jones @ Sage Gateshead (26.2.19) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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It’s not very often you get to see rock ‘n’ roll history unfolding before your eyes but watching Booker T. Jones tear into a Hammond B3 organ was exactly that. The Stax Records legend is rightly thought of as a cultural institution today. He’s played with the likes of Otis Redding and Albert King and produced classic albums such as Willie Nelson’s Stardust and Bill Withers’ Just As I Am. 

For this tour, Booker T. is flanked by his solo band, an outfit of young musicians headed up by his own son, Ted Jones. They open with Hang ‘Em High and move quickly onto Gershwin’s Summertime. It’s an electrifying start to a performance that showed Booker T.’s continued mastery of the instrument he made famous.

His guitar-playing son really grew into the set, channelling B.B. King and Jimi Hendrix with guitar work that demonstrated why subtlety and feel are just as important as technical proficiency.

A selection of crowd-pleasing covers such as Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door and Hey Joe filled out the middle of the set, with the Memphis native talking the audience through some of the defining moments of his life in between songs.

There was also a touching father/son duet of Purple Rain before delving back into Booker T. & The MG’s classics such as Melting Pot and Time is Tight.

In a show of professionalism that had been present throughout, Booker T. signed off with an encore of Hey Ya and Loving You Too Long, played with a kind of passion that you really wouldn’t expect from someone who’s been in the industry for the best part of 6 decades.

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