There is no doubt the Jazz Cafe, situated in London’s bustling Camden Town, is ideal for a concert of this nature. With a rather scrumptious dinner out of the way – burger for me and the smoked cod for my dining companion, followed by choccy brownie and lime cheesecake washed downed with a very quaffable Malbec, very reasonably priced too – we hunkered down for an evening of pure musical pleasure.
With female vocalist Acantha Lang warming up the crowd with an acoustic set, John exploded on to the stage in a blaze of glory, wearing a shimmering gold suit and immediately went into a full medley of Imagination hits. This was sexy, silky, moody music from reggae to disco to heartfelt gospel soul, and John performed all these different genres of music with an ease that was just magnificent and sublime in delivery.
Hardly pausing for breath, the banter between songs was kept to a minimum and through his own admission he wanted his repertoire to speak for itself. Highlighting his Caribbean roots John just enforced his vocal range, his command of the stage, his happy vibe. The fact that John has been described by his contemporaries as the perfect showman, I saw that this was indeed the case.
John’s ability to create a crescendo in a song, be it a tribute to Michael Jackson or to some of the disco divas of the 70s and 80s, was exceptional. The way he constructed the melodies of the songs he sang was also stunning, using the microphone in such a way that it became part of him as he danced, twirled and spun around the stage. His relations with his band just made the whole thing work.
The finale featuring “Body Talk”, now 40 years old, and his signature song “Just An Illusion” took off the roof of the Cafe. A rousing night of musical elegance and sophistication that few can attempt, let alone deliver, in such a way that makes John a very special talent. One of his songs is a track called “So Good” and indeed it was. Ecstatic!