By: Peter van Brummelen in Amsterdam newspaper "Het Parool" (translated)
Forty years ago Bill Withers made his debut. Dutch and American artists performed for him in Royal Theatre Carré in Amsterdam.
Will he or won't he? That was the question last saturday. Unfortunately, he did not. Bill Withers came on stage to accept a gift (a painting of his daughter Kori by Daan van Doorn), but unfortunately the 72 years old soulman did not sing. Too bad, since the few words he said, proved that his voice still has his sharp, yet warm sound.
Therefore it really was a "Concert For Bill Withers" in Carré, and not the "Concert With Bill Withers" that many people hoped for. A very nice evening nonetheless, since the Netherlands based American singer Sandra St.Victor, who organized the tribute, had selected a great group of artists to perform Bill Withers' songs. Mostly Dutch, but also a few Americans.
Cause for the tribute was the fact that Withers 40 years ago made his debut with "Just As I Am". He was already in his early thirties then. Fifteen years later he left the music business. In this short career he created many great songs. "Lovely Day" and "Ain't No Sunshine" are world classics. The Carré show also emphasized how special the songs were that didn't make it to the charts.
The Dutch singers were quite good. Ruben Hein, Sabrina Starke, Boris and 'Traincha' Oosterhuis all know how to sing soul. Benjamin Herman's sax solo's of course are always enjoyable. Still the Americans – most of them expats – made the best impression.
Sandra St. Victor herself, former lead singer of The Family Stand, excelled in Withers more intimate ballads. Michelle David, mostly known here for "Big, Black and Beautiful" did very well in the more exuberant work. In an outfit that seemingly could burst any moment, she bitchy sang "Who Is She And What Is She To You". The master must have been proud when his daughter, Kori Withers took the stage with her own composition, and a very personal rendition of "In My Heart."
Although Mr. Withers, seated in the first row, had to leave twice, luckily Withers was back in time to witness Shaws apotheosis of "I Can't Write Left Handed". Shaw did a great performance of this song, about an wounded American soldier in Vietnam. It was a true goose pimple moment. Shaw should record it just like this. With the same musicians, like Marcus Machado, who was excellent all evening. Kicking his wah wah pedal he played his electric guitar super funky, but also on acoustic guitar – most important in Bill Withers records – he excelled. And also Marcus Machado lives in The Netherlands, as leader of Boris' band.
Original article on Het Parool website.