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InigO2, London, 16 December 2007

In a totally unforeseen way tonight's Joe Cocker/Storys gig was all about the significance of demographics. For while it was a salutary experience being among thousands of enthusiastic Spice Girl fans populating Millennium Way as we approached the O2 complex, Joe Cocker almost made you glow with pride to have been part of a generation for whom music rather than hype has held sway for the best part of 4 decades.

And it is armed with this sort of knowledge that whoever manages tonight's support band The Storys made sure that their harmony laden charges would open proceedings for Cocker's baby boomer audience. For in the land of enduring musical values, Radio 2 is the natural home any aspiring west coast sounding melodic outfit like the Storys.

And while the impressive west coast influenced melodic rockers are perhaps a shade too sugary to fully embrace the Americana template, their crisp, multi layered harmonies and acoustic sensibilities recall the days of The Eagles, Jackson Browne, Crosby Stills & Nash and in their more poppy moments Wet Wet Wet.

And despite the fact they were hitting most of the audience cold, The Storys quickly proved that their brand of polished melodic pop was indeed the stuff that Cocker's audience were predisposed to. The crowd's warm reception was fully merited as Wales' impressed with a handful of well crafted songs from the polished acoustic wash of 'Journey's End(Show Me Your Love)' and the rousing sing-along chorus of 'Save Me', to their best song 'Cinnamon' on which you half expected Jackson Browne to wander in from the wings.

Enter Joe Cocker OBE. Looking a great deal fitter if not trimmer than when I last saw him 10 years ago, Cocker fronted a multi-functional road tested band who served him well. Indeed when Joe apologised for his voice being 'a little fried as we've just done a 100 date tour round Europe' you did have to admire the resilience of this 63 year old trouper, for whom the slightest vocal inflection could bring emotion to a shopping list.

In a fast changing world Cocker has made a living out of remaining steadfast in his role as an interpreter of song and his forte was no better displayed than on a show stopping rendition of Billy Preston's tear jerker, 'You Are So Beautiful' and the quite magnificent 'N'oubliez Jamais'. The latter came with an audio visual representation of Paris, Cocker and emblematic French sex symbol Catherine Deneuve (don't ask), and will surely become a JC staple in due course.

Joe also fell back on old favourites such as Dave Mason's 'Feelin Alright' from the 'Mad Dogs & Englishmen' album, inevitably 'With A Little Help From Myself' on which he still managed to dredge up a starling growl, and even found room for a reggae inflected 'Summer in the City'. In between the tried and tested, band sat down for brief highlights from the current album of which the gospel tinged title track 'Hymn 4 My Soul' stood out.

The voice held out, the band was tight, and the crowd loved him, and Joe celebrated throughout with little jumps in the air to signify the end of each song.

Review by Pete Feenstra

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