Veteran performer has truly arrived; Black builds toward sizzling end

22-Feb-2009 | SHARE:

There is nothing like a well-chosen cover song.

Without it, where would Doctor and the Medics, Natalie Imbruglia or Lou Bega be?

About where they are now, presumably.

For Toronto's Jully Black, that song is Seven Day Fool, an Etta James shouter that in the talented soul sister's hands commanded sufficient attention a year ago to be taken as proof that Black, following a decade-plus as an up-and-comer, had arrived. Chosen as the closer for the 2008 Juno ceremony and rightly celebrated as a breath of fresh air on the radio dial, the show-stopper had critics fumbling for labels.

Canada's Tina Turner. Canada's Mary J Blige. Canada's Queen of R&B. (That last title about as prestigious on the world stage as "Iceland's King of the Blues.")

It was a tough act to follow. Particularly for a belter of soul songs whose dozen-plus years centre-stage have to date yielded but two albums of original material -- Black recently stated with pride on her website that she and her collaborators have "officially written" five new songs toward a third.

Yesterday, at the final concert of the Winterlude Snowbowl series, Black kept those five songs under wraps, instead presenting a moderate-sized and moderately-receptive crowd with a cross-section of her career to date. The bulk of the material was culled from Revival, but the singer's 2005 debut, This Is Me, was also given its due.

And as the star and her nine-piece band gave Winterluders reason to "make some noise" as requested, the challenges of keeping up with Etta melted away. Fans braving the cold experienced not Canada's Tina Turner or Mary J Blige. Blessed with an easy-going manner that conveyed genuine enthusiasm for the muted response of gloved hands clapping, the performer onstage was Canada's Jully Black.

Yesterday, Black delivered a set worthy of R&B royalty.

It took a while for the slow burn of numbers like Queen and Temporary Insanity to build to a sizzle. But somewhere around the 30-minute mark, she ramped things up -- a hip-shakin' rendition of her best original Sweat Off Your Brow guiding us into a powerful Until I Stay, some funky improv action from the band and the infectious set-closer DJ Play My Song.

It was a lesson in pacing that can only be delivered by a veteran performer who has well and truly arrived.

Oh, and there was an encore.

An Etta James cover. Great song. One of several in Black's repertoire.

Credit: Allan Wigney; The Ottawa Citizen

Illustration

Photo: David Gonczol, the Ottawa Citizen / Singer Jully Black delivered a concert set worthy of R&B royalty at Winterlude last night. ;; Caption:

Copyright Southam Publications Inc. Feb 22, 2009