Jarvis Church & Soul Station: The Hoxton

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Toronto, ON

It was hot, hot, hot, onstage and off during the Jarvis Church soul throw down in front of a near full Hoxton, Management had dutifully cranked the heat for the usual November conditions. Except last Saturday night was Memphis warm outside and sauna like inside. Even the babes in barely there camisoles were sweating up way before the dancing started. No question this was a dancing demographic, primarily made up of newish fans brought into the soul fold by such as Usher and Timberlake, salted with a small number of veteran genre fans reliving their old soul days.

All comers were pleased as Church and backing crew Soul Station set a torrid pace which put everybody on the good foot from the get go.
The former Philosopher Kings front man is on a mission to bring soul back and with the Sam Cooke catalogue as the template, he went to work with sweaty enthusiasm and impressive vocal chops.

Church is arguably the finest falsetto in the land and selections such as Cooke’s Civil Rights anthem ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ and his own current single ‘Do It Better’ showcased a painstaking and emotive approach to the material. Anyone familiar with Cooke’s work knows it’s no easy task covering all his vocal bases. Church was up for the challenging, cleverly balancing the testifyin’ with the smooth operatin’ on such as ‘Having A party’ and ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’.

The show was conceived as an introduction to Soul Station Vol. 1 The Songs of Sam Cooke A Tribute, the leadoff in a series of albums Church plans on releasing, each focused on a genre-defining soul star. The live show is modelled on classic soul reviews, mixing Cook classics with Church and P Kings material for a fan pleasing ruckus of a show complete with the old school move of bringing a female audience member onstage for a soul baring ballad, in this case his own ‘You Don’t Love Me (Like You Used To).

Bringing the noise, a top flight band of local musos including keyboardist Michael Kaeshammer, bassist Marc Rogers, saxman Perry White and guitarist Justin Abedin

Jarvis Church didn’t have to do ‘I Am The Man’ to seal the deal. Long before the show’s end it was obvious as the sweat on his brow and the smile on his face he was The Soul Man and he’s never looked happier.

Lenny Stoute