May 11, 2010

V4YS Concert Review - Gil Scott-Heron - Live At New Morning, Paris (10/05/10)

Gil Scott-Heron (second set)
It's been almost 10 years.
We had to wait such a long time to have the immense pleasure of seeing Gil Scott-Heron back in France, in his beloved "New Morning" venue in central Paris.
So time has been passing by, the man has been going through his fair share of struggles, but him and his eternal talent have not "disappeared" as he joked during his hilarious intro speaches.
To add to the legendary tone of this very special evening, Gil was supported by long-time companions from "The Midnight Band" and "Amnesia Express" years, Glenn Turner (Keyboards, Harmonica), Brian Settles (Saxophone, Flute) & Tony Duncanson (Congas).
Together they offered two separate concerts in the same evening, each lasting just shy of 2 hours.

I attended both shows, each were identical as far as the tracklisting is concerned, focusing on classics with only "I'll Take Care Of You" from the recent album "I'm New Here".
Gil Scott-Heron (first set)
 1 Blue Collar
2 Winter In America
3 We Almost Lost Detroit - Work For Peace Medley
4 Three Miles Down
5 I'll Take Care Of You
6 Did You Hear What They Said
7 The Other Side (Part I, II & III)
8 The Bottle
9 "encore", don't remember which track it was, please help if you were there! 

Gil started alone on stage and after only three notes from his unseparable Rhodes Keyboards and the first two lines from "Blue Collar", if anybody in the audience still had any doubt, they were reassured : Gil is really back.
His unique deep & hoarse voice still carries the same amount of emotions than it did 10, 20 or 30 years ago. Even more touching was the genuineness of his interpretation (for each track of the show). He's been singing these classics a million times, but he still truly "feels" his decades-old socially-conscious lyrics and he should as, for most of them, they sadly still are particularly relevant these days.  
"Winter In America" was also sung alone at the Rhodes and introduced with a tale he made classic over the years, the "meeting between the seasons". The band came on stage for the medley blending one of my favorite Gil's song, "We Almost Lost Detroit", with "Work For Peace".
Making the audience laugh between each song with his always well-found quips about different subjects (his digression about the icelandic volcano was particularly funny), Gil also had us participate to help singing the easy chorus from the beautiful song "Three Miles Down" depicting the miners terrible work environment(audio below).

Brian Settles
Glenn Turner
 His band stood up to his standard : flute and tenor sax solos full of sensibility from Brian Settles, energetic harmonica parts from Glenn Turner or the final crazy 7-or 8-mn long congas impro in the middle of "The Bottle" by Tony Duncanson (reminding me of live explosions from the late Ray Barretto) were all brilliant.

Not much to add after such a fantastic moment, ah yes, something I was wondering yesterday night : if there were more Gil's, the world would surely be a better place!

Below a few treats : videos of the medley  "We Almost Lost Detroit-Work For Peace" from the second set and audio streaming of "Three Miles Down". Hope you'll like it!

Part 1 :

Part 2 :

"Three Miles Down", with a little help of the New Morning audience, the superb lyrics (not the easy chorus!) can be found (here) :

A few add-ons :

- If you want to know more about Gil's work, I suggest you watch the great 1-h long documentary done by the Bbc a few years back, youtube streaming here.

- If you're into "socially-conscious" soul/funk, you may also enjoy listening to our recent "Lyrics Do Matter" selection/podcast assembling some of our favorite tracks in that space.

- Finally for the french fans who missed the show yesterday, be aware that Gil will be performing early July at Gilles Peterson's Worldwide Festival in Sète, and in early september in Paris at La Villette Jazz Festival (tickets should be on sale in June).

1 comment:

  1. Great review. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to see him live last year. I also got a chance to create this birthday tribute mix. Check it out on

    Stay blessed,

    Lady Elix