Shalamar – Live Review – Sheffield Foundry
By @Steve Crabtree, November 2017
I’ve always been a fan of Shalamar’s late 70s, early 80s R&B stuff, and tonight in they’re here in Sheffield as they embark on a large UK tour to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of their bestselling Friends album.
In their time, Shalamar, who are originally from New York, sold over 25 million records worldwide and collected no less than 100 gold, silver and platinum awards. And although only two of the three original members of the group remain, I’m really looking forward to tonight’s show… and so are the hundreds of others who are already rammed in to the venue as we arrive.
It’s a great atmosphere – standing room only; and Jeffrey Daniel, Carolyn Griffey and Howard Hewlett are in their usual left-to-right positions, with the show in full, funky swing.
Foundry at Sheffield is a nice, clean, student union room with a very low ceiling over the dancefloor. Stood at the back of the room to begin with, the sound isn’t very clear probably due to the height of the place. We meander our way through towards the front though, and it’s a world of difference. Now we’ve got a show!
And the hits are coming thick and fast. ‘Take That To The Bank’ and “’There It Is’ sound great and get everyone going; joining in and moving the best they can on the packed dancefloor.
Jeffrey Daniel and Howard Hewlett have been a staple part of the band since 1979, and Hewlett still has the voice. Jody Watley hasn’t been part of the group for a while, with many fans feeling that things aren’t quite the same without her. After all, she was part of the group when all their hits were stacking up, and she and Daniels famously danced together on America’s Soul Train show.
hat’s where Shalamar came together, but despite that, Carolyn Griffey is a great performer, has strong vocals and is definitely a fully-fledged member of the group now. She fits right in – making the female role her own.
They break in to ‘The Real Thing’, a new song released to coincide with the anniversary and it’s upbeat and disco-like feel means it goes down a storm with the crowd. It fits in with what Shalamar were always about.
It’s fair to say that the crowd, the majority of whom will have been hitting the nightclub dancefloors for the first time in the early 80s, are thrilled at what’s going down tonight.
There’s quite an ensemble behind the trio these days, and the stage is quite small. This means that there’s not too much room for some of the hot moves that we’re all waiting to see from Jeffrey Daniel.
Daniel’s moves are legendary… He’s the guy who co-choreographed Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad’ video, but more importantly – he invented the moonwalk. Yes, that Moonwalk. He was the first guy to perform it, on Top Of The Pops in 1982, before handing it over to Jacko who went on to make it his world famous signature move.
But Daniel does manage to utilise the little space he has, much to our delight and to our chanting of “Go Jeffrey, Go Jeffrey…”. He’s still got it – even after all this time.
‘Playing To Win’ and ‘I Can Make You Feel Good’ arrive to monumental cheers, and everyone in the place is in a feel-good-disco mood, with ‘A Night To Remember’ being the overwhelming favourite of the night.
I think Shalamar are deserving of a slightly larger venue than the Foundry. A theatre may have been a better choice – it would have fit this crowd a bit more comfortably, and I feel that a more open space would have done more justice to the excellent music and vocals that this group still put out all these years later.
But you can’t take anything away from Shalamar. A brilliant performance, from a very genuine, cheerful and fantastic trio – who’ve proved why they won all those awards back in the day.