There is nothing quite like a European audience showing their appreciation for a soul music legend. I've witnessed that genuine love and respect on several occasions since arriving in London in April but nothing prepared me for the response that Stax artist Leon Ware elicited during his Paris debut at The New Morning club on July 18.
Before an excited packed house, the renowned singer/songwriter, musician and producer gave the anticipatory Parisian audience exactly what they came for. In an extended set that lasted for over two hours, Ware showcased tunes like the standouts "Smoovin'" and "Hold Tonight" from his Stax debut set Moon Ride alongside tunes he's written for Minnie Riperton ("Inside My Love"), Quincy Jones ("If I Ever Lose This Heaven") and, with particular poignancy, Michael Jackson ("I Wanna Be Where You Are") to rapturous applause.
Ware's rendition of his own "I Know It's You" (recorded by Donny Hathaway) was magnificent, delivered with true passion and deep emotion. A groove master of the first order, the justifiably self-proclaimed Minister Of Musical Sensuality brought the house down with "After The Dance" and "Come Live With Me," both from Marvin Gaye's '70s classic I Want You album which Ware composed and produced.
Ably assisted by a superb UK band and powerhouse vocalist Vanessa Haynes, Ware was in top form on "Why I Came To California" and "Rockin' You Eternally," two of the tunes from his own catalog of albums that have contributed to his status as a revered soul music master.
A final rousing "I Want You" and an encore during which Ware accompanied himself at the piano left the crowd begging for more and assuring that Ware's return to Paris can't come too soon.
With special thanks to Carol Ware, Frederic Adrian and Diane Dunkley
About the Writer
David Nathan is the founder and CEO of SoulMusic.com and began his writing career in 1965; beginning in 1967, he was a regular contributor to Blues & Soul magazine in London before relocating to the U.S. in 1975 where he served as U.S. editor for the publication for several decades and began being known as 'The British Ambassador Of Soul.' From 1988 to 2004, he wrote prolifically for Billboard, has penned bios, produced and written liner notes for box sets and reissue CDs for over a thousand projects. He returned to London in 2009 where he has helped create SoulMusic.com Records as a leading reissue label.