Barrence Whitfield and the Savages
16th November 2014
Barrence Whitfield, aka Barry White, brings his own version of vintage modern soul to Manchester.
The top support act Bones Shake from Manchester put in an impassioned performance with a very theatrical frontman a modern days Doors act well worth checking out but it was clear that the audience were here to see someone else.
Barrence Whitfield, born Barry White, hails from Jacksonville, Florida and has been honing his undeniable talents since joining a gospel choir as a child after moving to New Jersey. He’s been playing his own style of ‘raucous and rough’ 60s style since the 80s and had to change names as some cheeky scamp beat him to his own.
Barrence “has a long history of Manchester gigs dating as far back as 1986 when they played the infamous venue, Manchester International; sadly now gone but handy if you’re cooking Turkish style as it’s now Venus Foods”. Still hot from their gig in Wakefield the night before Barrence and the Savages attracted an eclectic crowd from punk rockers to suits.
The first thing Barrence did once on the stage was to invite everyone to move in closer for a more intimate show, kicking off with Bip Bop, a real crowd pleaser which got everyone moving from the off, Then Bloody Mary, written by Boston boy Phil Lenker, the bass player, this great pulled song in the rest of the crowd.
I’m Sad About It is on YouTube from the Jools Holland show in 2013 and was a definite highlight of tonight’s set. Next song Willow sounded a little like Nirvana in bloom (at the beginning at least) and was given a big build up by Barrance telling everyone ‘how much of a man’ he was (let’s be honest he sounded great considering he was suffering with a throat infection) and at the end of I’m A Full Grown Man he was sweating.
George Slop was fun, lively and got the smoking area swinging. A big highlight tune for me was Angry Hands which reminded me of Hendrix. As the crowd chanted at the band “bloody savages”, Barrence replied with “the wonderful savages”. Willie Meehan, a tune about the boxer who beat up the best guy twice, was sweet. He showed off his Zoidberg impression before breaking into You Told Me To Lie while lead guitarist Peter Greenberg was on form during the whole gig – the a perfect foil for Barrence’s vocals.
The encore started with Round Them Up Ramblin Rose followed by classic blues that would have made Dan Aykroyd proud and last song Who’s Gonna Rock My Baby got the old geezesr in the crowd moving like 2 year olds.
Make sure you get along to see these guys next time they’re over here, You won’t be disappointed. Great entertainment!
All words and photos by Simon Lee, fins his Louder Than War archive here.