There is something really special about Union Chapel. It retains its role as a working church, whilst also opening its doors to the homeless and people in crisis. It also occasionally serves as one of the best music venues in our wonderful city.
I am excited tonight at the prospect of seeing Avery Sunshine, who I witnessed give an outstanding performance in a supporting role to Anthony David at the Jazz Cafe last year. That was really one of the standout performances of my 2010!
Heston is on support chores this evening. He is accompanied by percussion and Julius on keys and vocally is ready for the evening as I am struck by the honey sweet and mellow tone to his vocals on the first song “Distant Lover”. His voice reminds me of Freddie Jackson at times. I think his attire is possibly more suited to his native Dominican climate rather than the hallowed stage of the Union Chapel but it is clearly part of his individuality. His second song “Outside Your Window” is my favourite from his WARM HUMAN, COLD HEART CD. It is a beautiful song with an arrangement that conjures up Dexter Wansel or Stevie. Also, he treats us to “Lovespace”, a new song written about a week earlier. I am less enamoured with some cheesier moments! He gets us suitably focused and ready for some Sunshine.
Avery, Avery Avery! This singer & songwriter really knows how to make an instant impression and we have the added bonus of her doing this twice due to a minor band hiccup! Avery really does bring positivity, happiness and indeed sunshine. The audience is clearly ready to soak up her rays and join her in singing the Temptations “My Girl” which takes us into her first single “I Got Sunshine”. Her talent as an accomplished musical director means she is able to encourage the altos, sopranos, basses and tenors in the audience to develop harmonising “do dos”. Clearly the altos and sopranos are in fine form. Avery is a single woman and clearly keeping a look-out for her future baby daddy. This search and image of what this man will be is shared with us through songs including “Lady” by D’Angelo, “He Loves Me” by Jill Scott and “Outstanding” by the Gap Band. Avery then gives us her own song “Pinin’” with a segue into “Midnight Train To Georgia” and for the band an inspired Pips moment. One of my favourite songs on her CD, “Like This”, follows and is given an extended workout with band solos on bass, guitar and drums and is simply beautiful.
Avery is joined by the IDMC (Individuals Dedicated to the Ministry of Christ) Choir and it is a fitting setting to remind us of her gospel roots and treat us to her own “Blessing Me” alongside “Psalm 23” and “He Keeps On Doing Great Things For Me”. Avery knows how to work a choir and also engages the audience with stories in between songs and we get to know her and love her for making that very human connection as well as then giving her all in the songs. Songs, interpretation and performance are crucial to a great gig and Avery has already achieved this and it ain’t over yet!
To follow this with the next song is inspired and gives us her playful and maybe slightly scary side on the song “Stalk You”. This uptempo song was licensed to a House label and is available to buy on ReverbNation. It is a classic soulful house tune, which, after the gospel, makes me want to get up and dance, but I am struck by everyone sitting in the pews with reverential respect, heads nodding, smiling and laughing. It is an amusing song with Avery calling some man over and over again to no avail, and segues into “All I Do” by Stevie Wonder and confirms for me that Avery is Wonderful. Unique! Amazing!! I have to give you a snippet of the lyrics:
I know this is the 5th time I've called you And it's only been two hours since I saw you I hope I'm not beginning to annoy you But I can't seem to get enough of you
If you want more get to ReverbNation, listen and buy! Love it! And I am actually listening to it as I get to the end of this here review!
“Ugly Part Of Me” is a standout track on the CD, was at the Jazz Cafe gig and remains so here. Avery gives us the essence of her emotions and humility on this song and performance and once again reaches the parts that few performers reach. I am moved!
All too soon it is almost time to go but she leaves us with “All In My Head” and a snippet of Anita Baker’s “Sweet Love”. Although time is limited, Avery does return with an encore of “You’ve Got A Friend”. The audience hungers for more but time has run out so unfortunately we are left wanting. Her next London gig will be supporting BB King at the Royal Albert Hall.
Thank you Dome Records and Jazz FM, but most of all, thank you Avery.
About the Writer
Terry Joe is a London-based has led bands as a vocalist, releasing cds and regularly performing. His favourite artists include Anita Baker, Jill Scott, Al Green, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, Ledisi, Nathan Haines, Me'shell NdegeOcello and many more.