Review by Hayley Clark with Photography by Robert Barrett

For the past couple of weeks I’d had friends call me, asking what I wanted to do for my birthday, I told them, Angie Stone is in town, seriously it is not going to be the gig to miss this year. It’s not everyday such a powerful and inspirational singer comes to play in your backyard on a Thursday night in mid October, and for once London weren’t the only ones having all the fun.

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On a side note I have a bit of a confession, I actually turned up at Birmingham’s historic Institute building 24 hours prior to the gig as the excitement of the anticipation got too much and I thought Angie was on the night before, however when I said it was going to be a highlight of the Birmingham gig calendar it was also due to the strength of the night that was boasted. Not only a superstar such as Ms Stone (who surprisingly has been in the business a whopping forty years, when she doesn’t even look that age herself) but also swift strong support from Incognito’s Tony Momrelle who accompanied her at her Innervisions gig in London last year.

The sophisticated crowd were eager tonight, ready and waiting, filling up the venue sweetly and waiting patiently for the show to begin, it’s not ever gigs where the crowd is nearly at capacity when the support is due to take the stage but twinkles in eyes knew this was gonna be something special, both upper levels of the venue were filled to the rafters as the night began to buzz.

Tony Momrelle

Clapping blissfully Tony Momrelle approached the stage, the applause he was getting now was nothing compared to what he was about to receive at the end of his set. Eyes widened as he bounced into his set, the sweet soulful sound fell gracefully from his mouth as the Incognito singer wowed them with his voice. The cheeky chappy beamed as he told anecdotes of his career and entertained the audience with his soulful sounds, backed by his talented band Julian Crampton, Christian Mendoza and Emiliano Parri the little gem of the British Soul scene beamed like his track ‘Sunshine’ hooking the crowd and captivating their attention.

With the smooth sounds of latest offering ‘Best Is Yet To Come’. Reminiscent notes of a certain Stevie Wonder, Tony jokes about how he received a late night call from the music royalty, who surprisingly didn’t tell him he loved him, leaving the audience in giggles at the joke before an energetic performance of ‘Golden Lady’ it’s cover oozing funk as his set drew to a close and the rapturous applause engulfed the room.

Tony Momrelle

Tony Momrelle

With the crowd warmed up the lights dipped low and you could hear a pin drop, it was time for multi-platinum, award winning neo soul funk Goddess Ms Angie Stone to finally play Birmingham, backed with full band and her three talented female backing vocals the crowd clapped and went wild as she graced them with her presence.

Looking glamorous in a sequinned bomber jacket, ripped jeans and a jewel encrusted Moschino tee the crowd were instantly mesmerised “It’s good to be back, I don’t always get time to say Thank you, so I’ll thank you all at the start now for coming tonight”, kicking off the first of three nights on UK shores.

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The jazz infused neo soul sounds coming from the stage took the audience down memory lane, the powerful sounds and iconic melodies shone through as Angie oozed funk, beaming across the stage delivering eye contact with her front row, the rapport between her and them added to the atmosphere as they watched open mouthed singing along with the innovative singer. The evening takes you on a magical journey, old school classics like ‘Green Grass Vapours’ and ‘Life story’ mixed with the current tracks, having just released new album ‘Full Circle’ her versatility is impressive.

Slick sounds and emotional candour are expressed with the impressive ‘Dinosaur’ and ‘Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That’. The dirty beat fills the room with ‘Same Number’ as Stone tells the audience “You know when you split up with someone but you’re not really over it and then try and call them again after a while”, vastly becoming a favourite of the audience with it’s straight to the point catchy verse “You Single? I’m Single… take me out”, female empowerment at its finest, no need to be shy around here.

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Highlight of the night hands down was ‘No More Rain’ Angie bringing her three backing sisters to the front of the stage and letting each one take it to church in a game of tag you’re it, as she tapped each one they proved how much they compliment the American songstress, from highs to low notes she humbly boasted of how she appreciated working alongside these three talented ladies, sporting sparkly Angie Stone tees.

After a quick ‘Happy Birthday’ ditty to a fan called Gordon, the uplifting evening drew to a close, with nothing but soul, class and positive vibes it was time for Angie Stone to take it to church and raise the Institute’s roof off, the recognisable bass melody rang out the back as the smooth hum of the intro to ‘Wish I Didn’t Miss You’ kicked in, as fans swayed from side to side to the soulful melody, she purred into the microphone to cheers and claps from her adoring audience. No need for an encore with the extended version of this hit, bringing in reggae vibes slowing it down and taking it to Jamaica before a round the world trip to the Latino beat of Puerto Rico, the humble idol waves goodbye telling her fans she will be outside signing copies of Full Circle after the show.

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After a crowd favourite packed setlist she was still beaming when meeting and greeting her fans, with forty years in the industry it is easy to see why this lovable and talented megastar upholds her crown as a Queen of R&B.

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