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Review: Music

Mavis Staples

Mavis Staples

02 ABC, Glasgow

Rob Adams

She took us there. By the time Mavis Staples delivered her parting shot, her family's early 1970s hit I'll Take You There, she'd already delivered on that as well as on her promises of joy and good vibrations.

If there was the gospel high that was the Staple Singers' modus operandi from the moment Pops Staples gathered his children around his guitar, we got it on The Weight, with the verses being shared around a group of voices as on its creators, The Band's blueprint and Mavis especially taking it to church. And if there was the Freedom Highway that Pops wrote for the civil rights movement in 1962, Mavis took us marching up it.

Her commitment, even on the night before her 75th birthday, was remarkable.

And her passion, aided by her lean, wiry guitar, bass and drums backing trio and two supporting singers, lends everything she sings a deep-rooted authenticity to the point where Talking Heads' Slippery People and Jeff Tweedy's You Are Not Alone sounded as if theirs, not hers, would be the cover versions.

Occasionally her voice didn't have quite the power she might have wanted but the woman has charisma to burn, as well as great tone and clarity, and her percussive repetition of "do it again" was as thrillingly musical as it was effective in building and sustaining the mood. She may have needed the break that allowed her band to take bluesy centre stage but she'd earned it and even supposedly off-duty she was prepared to act as cheerleader in chief as guitarist Rick Holmstrom recovered from a tumble to drench Mercy Mercy Mercy in soul-blues spirit.

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