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Ural Thomas & The Pain – 8th Sept @ GCT by Shippy

As a few of you probably know, I’ve been going to SXSW in Austin since 1998. In the early years, I booked quite a few artists, just being there & that was the way of the world. However with “you tube, social media etc. it’s not really the case anymore. In fact, hardly any Brits were at SXSW this March. Luckily I was and got to see Portland Oregon’s Ural Thomas & The Pain stomping a parking lot stage, on a sunny spring Saturday afternoon in Texas. By early Sunday morning I had made contact with their agent & booked them with an added on UK summer date. (They were to appear at a renowned UK Festival).
Anyway this J ‘Hot club show last night at Gosforth Civic Theatre was it. Yes I already knew Ural Thomas was at least as good as, if not better than, all the recent Daptone records discoveries, Charles Bradley, Lee Fields, Sharon Jones & the like, whom Id seen myself in the past. However at 82 years, Mr. Ural Thomas can still shuffle around stage like a dancing mid 60 year old & has the songs & the vocal chops of any soul great. His 7-piece regular troupe was just perfection & so understated & classy it wasn’t true. The only thing they couldn’t do, as they wandering in the corridor with their glittering dinner jackets on before show time, was agree on a set. As they were the furthest north they’d ever been, it was to be a set list chock full of Northern Soul styled tunes & a few rare soul groove’s. Well, the fairly decent size crowds were up for that & it took just the second song for the dancers to hit the small dance area at the front. Others just sat around with a beer & some wine & took in the wonderful self -penned ditties from another era. They even enjoyed a casual call & response sing along mid set with Ural & the boys. Master retro soul stirrers were aired like “Pain is the name of your game” & “ No distance” the eerie ‘ Promises” and my favorite, the title track from their latest album & the ever so laid back funk of “Dancing Dimensions. I honestly thought a good few of the crowd were actually stunned, just how good the music was & I said to young Maree Hardy (25 years old) This is something you’ll be able to tell future generations about. Of course Ural was a genuinely lovely man too & had time to talk & have pictures taken with everyone & The Pain weren’t a pain either !
Oops, a shout out too for DJ Smoove who set the tone with some fine rare soul & funk 45’s pre Ural Thomas show.