Gig review: STEVE CROPPER with ANIMALS & FRIENDS – Live Rooms, Chester, 18 October 2014

Interview with Steve Cropper, chatting about his career (18 October 2014)

Steve Cropper - Chester Live Rooms, 18 October 2014

I last saw The Animals and Steve Cropper back in 2011.  Sadly the setlist hasn’t changed much since then, inevitably built around the “hits” and some Colonel fans may feel a little short-changed.  Steve’s economical set is punctuated by just a handful of his Booker T triumphs and he adds vocals to some of the Stax classics he co-wrote or produced back in the sixties.

Steve’s show is really a masterclass in real music and a truly legendary presence.  If his set was a little short for some (and bizarrely the Festival crowd had thinned a bit by the time of his arrival) he spiced things up with some fascinating anecdotes from those heady days of Stax.  On the eve of his 73rd birthday, it is all quite incredible.

Steve Cropper - Chester Live Rooms, 18 October 2014

Musically, Cropper is a master of the understatement but always connecting with the listener.  He’s toured for several years now with Animals & Friends and receives wonderful support from Mick Gallagher’s rorty Hammond swells and Scott Whitley assuming the Duck Dunn position on bass.  We should also mention the solid as a rock John Steel on drums (73!) and Danny Handley who provided additional guitar and vocals.

Steve Cropper - Chester Live Rooms, 18 October 2014

The Booker T stuff was of course quite wonderful, starting with an immersive ‘Hip Hug Her’, via ‘Time Is Tight’, and on to the inevitable ‘Green Onions’ which still sounds as compulsive and engaging as it did back in 1962.

Evocative it certainly is, even poignant in places as we connect with our past and those of the artists we grew up with.  But maybe a restyled “Audience with Steve Cropper” would allow the legend to expand on the anecdotes (he’s a great raconteur with sharp recollection), play some tunes, even show some old video to make for a more satisfying consumer experience, just as Stax was in the heyday.

Review by David Randall
Photos by Simon Dunkerley

Tour dates

Steve Cropper is featured in the ‘Heroes’ series on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio chatting about his career, Sunday 2 November 2014 at 17:00 GMT

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