A new Australian musical directed by celebrated Melbournian director Greg Carroll premiered in Brisbane Thursday night with internationally acclaimed singer-songwriter Gary Pinto in the lead.
'Songs And Times Of Sam Cooke – A Change Is Gonna Come' sees the revered singer pay homage to one of the most influential songwriters of all time.
Fronting a star-studded six-piece band – The Champions of Soul – Gary delivers some of Sam Cooke’s biggest hits in a stunning 90-minute show that had the audience spellbound. Led by music director and drummer Kyrie Anderson, Gary and his band take us on a journey through gospel, soul and R&B, and from the very first note, it is clear these musicians have worked hard to capture the sound that changed popular music.
While the arrangements are faithful to the ‘sound of soul’, they are not jukebox versions. Instead these consummate musicians have given Sam’s songbook a subtle makeover, creating a nuanced sound for a new generation of soul believers.
Thomas Kneebone’s jazz-inspired guitar is exquisite and he is ably supported by bassist Claire Cross who switches effortlessly from four string slapping to double bass plucking. The band is given its soul edge via the horns section, comprising Nicholas Ryan-Glenie on trumpet and Justin Fermino on sax, while keyboardist David McEvoy sprinkles his magic sparingly but effectively throughout the show.
Gary Pinto is relaxed and supremely confident on stage and it is no surprise – he is a veteran of the Australian R&B scene – being part of the hugely successful group CDB in the 1990s.
It is obvious from the get-go that Gary’s love for these classics runs deep. His soulful voice and commanding stage presence fills the theatre but the devotion doesn’t end with the songs. It is apparent that Pinto’s mission is to not only recreate the sound that made Sam Cooke a superstar but also, to keep alive the legacy of the man who was voted 4th in Rolling Stones’ ‘Greatest Singers of All Time’ list. “Cooke was a pioneer in that he fused gospel, soul and pop, and wrote some of the great classics in his time,” Gary says. He delivers a setlist that includes such smash hits as, 'You Send Me', 'Bring It On Home To Me', 'Chain Gang', 'Cupid', 'Another Saturday Night', 'Having A Party', and 'A Change Is Gonna Come'.
This is a show that shouldn’t be missed and the near capacity audience showed their approval with two standing ovations. What more can you say, but Gary Pinto IS Sam Cooke!
'Songs And Times Of Sam Cooke – A Change Is Gonna Come' continues at Brisbane Powerhouse until Saturday and then heads to Victoria.