As part of the EFG London Jazz Festival I was invited down to the exclusive Hideaway Jazz Club in Streatham where The Thomas Brown Affair were performing hits from their debut album – ‘Just The Two of Us‘
Following a sumptuous meal and cocktails I was eager for the evening to begin and by the sound of the humming crowd they were too. As the lights dimmed and the musicians took to their positions, the expectation from the crowd was high – for The Thomas Brown Affair front man Kenny Thomas was once a chart-topper in the 90’s, could this once UK Soul-boy turned man still cut the mustard? With bellies full and relaxed on whiskey and wine we were ready to find out.
Opening up with ‘He Aint Heavy‘ accompanied by Wayne Brown on piano. All eyes were focused, Kenny’s voice sharp and clear as a bell instantly reaffirming that we were all in for a great night.
Getting right down to business The Thomas Brown Affair had the crowd purring as they dished out decadent offerings from yesteryears. Bobby Cauldwell, Stevie Wonder and Bill Withers all receiving a stripped down version of their songs, exuberant, Jazzy.
The thing I enjoyed the most about the evening, and the album in general, is that everyone knows all the songs. The finger snapping began with Marvin Gaye‘s ‘How Sweet it is‘ – loved ones playing ventriloquist to Kenny’s dulcet tones. You either (as in my case) grew up listening to your parents playing these songs or have your own memories of eagerly buying the vinyls first time round – every song evoking a memory, there wasn’t a glum face in the house.
Between a scatting Kenny and piano virtuoso Wayne Brown laying down rubato rhythms you couldn’t help but clap and shoulder jive along. At one point I caught a tear of happiness in one woman’s eye who was out celebrating 18 years of being together with her now husband – they having walked down the isle only 18mths ago to Kenny’s song ‘Tender Love‘.
The two hour magnificent show was one of the best I’ve attended this year but no night would be complete without hearing Mr Thomas’ encore of well loved hits ‘Thinking About Your Love‘ and ‘Outstanding‘ featuring the fabulous vocals of Mrs Kenny Thomas and what a pair of lungs she has! Where has this woman been hiding? we really need to hear her showcasing that talent.
By the end of the two hour set revellers were up on their feet, singing, dancing and delighting in the moment – with The Thomas Brown Affair receiving a standing ovation and rounding off a perfect evening.
He Aint Heavy – Kelly Gordon
How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You – Marvin Gaye
Arthurs Theme – Burt Bacharach
What You Won’t Do For Love – Bobby Cauldwell
Aint No Sunshine – Bill Withers (instrumental)
Georgia On My Mind – Ray Charles
Best Of You – Kenny Thomas
Overjoyed – Stevie Wonder
Just The Two of Us – Bill Withers
What A Fool Believes – Doobie Brothers
Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word – Elton John
Baby I’ma Want You – John Holt
Just The Way You Are – Billy Joel
Thinking About Your Love – Kenny Thomas
Outstanding – The Gap Band