Review by Hayley Clark with Photography by Cath Dupuy

Not many 79 year olds can get up on stage at Glastonbury and blow the crowd away as much as the younger artists, but after all there is definitely something special about Mavis Staples. Six days away from her eightieth birthday, Chicago born Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee and American gospel singer, Mavis Staples returned for the second year of Innervisions Festival at Camden’s Roundhouse after the success of her first year at Union Chapel.

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“Well hello there” she beams as she takes to stage, “Thank you for coming to see me, I think I know some of ya’ll from Union Chapel, it’s good to see friends again”, her lovable personality shines bright from the stage.

In a slight fangirl moment, I’ve loved Mavis since ‘Melody Cool’, plus she starred in Graffiti Bridge, something about her is so appealing and what a voice she has. Over the years the stars have never quite aligned when it came to seeing her live, I’d already been booked elsewhere or was on holiday when she was in town, so tonight I was very excited and added to the fact that Roundhouse is a pretty magical venue in itself, this was already down as a highlight of my week before I’d even stepped through the iconic doorway and walked up the steps.

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Opening the night was Midlands based Stone Foundation, wowing the crowd with their mix of rock infused soul. Lead singer Neil Jones captivating the crowd with the energy flowing from the stage, deep riffs and catchy lyrics, the band are on fire as they play in London. Jones’ voice resembles a young Weller as he belts through tracks, their own ‘Pushing Your Love’ and ‘Carry The News’ sending the crowd crazy before an encore of Ann Peebles’ ‘Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down’. The crowd were fully warmed up as they cheered and clapped as they waited for the main act to appear.

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Accompanied by her band the crowd went wild as Mavis appeared on stage, the ex-Staples sisters wowed from the beginning mesmerising her fans with her impressive vocal range. With her youthful appearance and stage presence it’s hard to believe her age, yet the mixed age audience loved every moment, bringing the old and new as her voice filled the warm night air.

Funking things up with Funkadelics’ ‘Can You Get To That’ and covering Talking Head’s ‘Slippery People’ the passion behind her voice is overwhelming, newer offering ‘We Get By’ has the audience swaying from side to side in a nonstop stellar performance from one of music’s legendary female artists.

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Waving up to VIP and as playful as ever she calls to her granddaughter and family watching her “Do you want to come and sing a song too?” she joyfully coos to the audience’s delight, she’s like the grandma you would want to visit every weekend, her charm and affectionate nature mixed with her humorous anecdotes. Her political lyrics and realness are apparent from the off, like a prophet her wise words make sense as she checks those she also she admires within the industry, past and present, warming the audience with the melody flowing from her lips before hitting them deep with a gravelly funk, like Rufus or Sly back in the day.

Moving gracefully around the stage with a couple of shuffle dance moves added for good measure you can’t help but smile as she effortlessly blows you away, “I hope I can come and see you real soon” she beams as the inspirational evening comes to an end leaving a fuzzy feeling filled with love, and the crowd lifted the roof with a standing ovation.

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See the full photoset from tonight’s gig here.

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