Leroy Hutson at Indigo2
Described by Rolling Stone as the one of “the best-kept secrets of 70s soul”, Leroy Hutson – acclaimed singer, songwriter, producer, arranger and instrumentalist – has experienced relative anonymity compared with his peers Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Donnie Hathaway. It was Hathaway (Hutson’s Howard University roommate), however, who compelled Hutson to craft his sublime and sensuous music. Not that you would notice Hutson’s lack of household name status at the Indigo2, as hoards of fans bustle to the front of the tightly packed room to glimpse the soul veteran.
Every bit debonair, Hutson enters the stage to lilting bass and rapid bongo drums, eccentrically dapper in a luminous pink shirt and neon bow-tie. Now at 68 years old he moves with languorous elegance, yet age seems to have had no effect upon his voice. Silky and delicate, Hutson’s vocal resonates with velvet tenderness.
It’s an evening brimming with sensuality as we are informed that it is “my wife and I’s 45th wedding anniversary”. In honour of the occasion the singer treats us to a host of love ballads, excising his twinkling boyish charm. Lover’s Holiday glides along, Hutson’s honeyed cadences blending seductively with the backing singers’ warm harmonies while fluid brass and saxophone resound with sleek effortlessness. Sumptuous ballad, It’s Different melts in the ears and So in Love cascades in dreamy ripples of smooth guitar and warm harmonies.
Despite a piano having been set up for Hutson he rarely makes use of it, which is a shame as he is an accomplished musician, performing occasional short bursts with jazzy panache. However, the band really shines throughout, particularly during The Ghetto where guitars jive in swathes of syncopated groove, and the trumpet, trombone and saxophone solos add an uproarious sparkle to the crescendo. As the evening wears on Hutson’s enthusiastic stage manner becomes less believable: it is the band that brings real authenticity and funk to the night.
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Listen to Lover’s Holiday here: