Ruby Turner delivered an evening of soul and emotion at Liverpool’s Epstein Theatre and Getintothis’ Lisa Worth was there to witness.
While she is well known for her annual appearance on Jools Holland’s Hootenanny, and regularly tours with his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, Ruby is no “support” act.
Her smile lights up the stage, and herself, and her self-assured saunter tells you that you are in the hands of a true pro. It wasn’t her first time at the venue and the auditorium was filled with devotees, many of whom had travelled some distance.
And when she opens those pipes to let that voice out, it’s easy to see why.
She opened with cool soul numbers from her new release All That I Am, followed by gospel-inspired songs. Then, gliding seamlessly into that genre that she makes her own, she kicked the blues in the ass.
Few singers can transcend so many genres with ease, and even with a chest complaint, her voice soared, taking us with it. Her set is not always instantly recognisable, and that’s ok. The passion and emotion she brings to the stage offers us an immediate connection that your average chart singer can only dream of.
One minute she’s intimate, hushed, and in the next her voice is as smooth as honey. But suddenly her raw power grabs your attention and refuses to let you go until you submit.
Frankly, Ruby could sing the electoral roll and she would still have you rapt.
The largely middle-aged crowd were a little sedate, but it didn’t take long for Ruby to have them in the palm of her hand with her down to earth warmth and humour.
“We love you Rubes!” shouted one local lass.
“Thanks bab,” she replied, “That’s what we say in Birmingham.”
She shares the stage with a stellar band, led by Paul Pryor MD/Bass, providing a classy and highly accomplished swing.
Etta James stunner Rather Go Blind was her finale. It’s a tough song, and few can pull it off, but the anguish of a broken heart rang out of every note, leaving the audience in bits.
Not wanting to see her fans leave with tears in their eyes, though, she had them dancing to the end, with her joyous rendition of If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me).
As I left I noticed an excited huddle in the bar. Ruby had shot right around to front of house to chat with her audience, and sign their memorabilia. And after a two hour gig, facing a three hour trip home, and all with a chest infection.
Wow – what a lady!