2017 has been quite a year for lovers of music in the region with a rich and diverse range of artists playing across a multitude of venues from Kraftwerk to Blue Oyster Cult; The Stranglers to Michael Kiwanuka along with big hitters Queen, Phil Collins, Iron Maiden and Little Mix meant there was something for everyone.
It was rather fitting that a memorable year was brought to a close with an exclusive one-off show by soul legend Candi Staton meaning that the place to be on New Year’s Eve was The Sage.
The Sage really pulled out the stops to make this one eventful evening for everyone. Pre-show entertainment was provided in the beautifully-decorated main concourse by DJs Billy Keen and Gary Williams playing a fine mix of tunes before the House Gospel Choir lit up Hall One with some inspired and uplifting contemporary gospel.
With the crowd nicely warmed up, Candi Staton took 2017 into its final hour with a set of pure soul perfection. At 77 years of age she cut a fine figure on stage with a voice as soulful and beautiful as ever with a warm, heartfelt personality that came through every single note that she sang.
I Ain’t Easy To Love and Sweet Feeling saw Staton glide effortlessly from country to blues all soaked in her sultry soulful tones, while I’d Rather Be An Old Man’s Sweetheart (Than A Youngman’s Fool) was dedicated to all of the older guys in the hall much to their collective delight.
She almost won a Grammy for it but didn’t quite make it but her take on Stand By Your Man showed just how to take a song and put your own stamp on it and the seamless segue into Ben E King’s Stand By Me featuring a scintillating duet with her backing singer as sublime.
The hits flowed, song after song with her Bee Gees cover Nights on Broadway, You Got The Love and the all time classic Young Hearts Run Free being the perfect soundtrack to the best party in town.
With the House Gospel Choir back for the run up to midnight in the concourse, 2018 was welcomed in with a front row view of the spectacular fireworks display as the party continued into the small hours with a dance laden Northern Soul set ensuring a Happy New Year was had by all.