William Bell Stone Foundation
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William Bell, Stone Foundation, Union Chapel, Islington. 09/07/16

What a great chance to see one of my favourite bands supporting a genuine Stax legend in one night. Also seeing them at one of the most atmospheric venues in London. If you haven’t been to the Union Chapel, it is a great big gothic church, which is a 1 minute walk from Highbury and Islington station. You watch the events sitting on pews, surrounded by some magnificent stained glass windows and even though you can’t take alcohol from the bar into the church, they do serve a mean cup of tea. It is my favourite part of London, as well as having the capitals finest football team in walking distance, it also boasts many good restaurants in the vicinity. It’s very good for music and the arts in the area as well . Musically there is the Chapel, the Garage, O2 Academy, Islington assembly rooms and every now and then the iconic Hope and Anchor puts on a show. For theatre, the Hen and Chickens, Kings Head, Tower theatre and Almedia theatre, all regularly putting on plays and poetry readings, all of this within a 10 minute walk.

First on were the superb Stone Foundation, they did an acoustic set of mainly new songs. I love this band and as usual they didn’t disappoint. If you ever get a chance to see them, I would suggest that you do, especially if you like your soul a bit funky with bits of rhythm and blues thrown in. After the band had finished, the queue for the bar started and here you could do some star spotting queueing up for a drink, first was Nick Lowe closely followed by Paul Weller.


Next up was the first artist to be signed by the Stax record label, William Bell. Stax was probably the most influential record label ever, my favourite anyway. At the time the house band Booker T and the MG’s were multi racial, not very usual in the 60’s with the tall strange looking white guitarist Steve Cropper writing some of the best classic soul tracks ever . Stax had a great roster of talent Otis Redding, Staple Singers, Eddie Floyd, Isaac Hayes, Ruby Johnson, The Soul children, the Dramatics plus many many more. Anyway William Bell for a man who is 77 he can till knock out a song and if I had his energy at my age I would be well pleased. He blasted out a soulful set which included “Private number” “Three of me” “Trying to love two” “Easy coming out” “Everybody loves a winner” and of course his first one “You don’t miss your water” there were many others and he ended with probably his most covered song “Born under a bad sign.” This was a great night and even though he didn’t sing my favourite one “Happy” I was still very happy at the end of the evening. Another notable exception was one of his only singles that charted in this country “Tribute to a king.” I always say that if you get a chance to see old legends, do it because when they are gone, they are gone. I am happy to say that William is the first to sign for the reincarnation of the Stax label and has already brought out a new album so he still going strong.

Summing up a great gig in a fantastic venue, have a look at their website to see who they have coming up. I noticed Billy Bragg, Graham Parker with Brinsley Schwarz and a bluegrass rendition of the Who’s Tommy all in the near future.

Duncan, July 2016.