Where is Sly?

{mosimage}One of the
big days at Pori Jazz 2007 was marked by the performance of the reunited Sly
and The Family Stone
. In 2006, the reclusive Sly Stone decided to come back and
hit the road again. After years of retirement, drug abuse and erratic behaviour,
there was a big expectation (and doubts) of what the seminal soul, funk and
rock combo could offer.
 

 

A jam,
which served as a sound check, and the hit Dance to the Music opened the show on Friday night.
No sign of Sly Stone on stage yet. Perhaps several people at that time wondered
if the artist was even in Finland. But soon, he is introduced and Sly appears
on stage in an oversized hoody, a baseball cap and dark glasses. He joins the
band playing keyboards, he sings a little bit with an old and worn out voice
and after a couple of songs he leaves the stage promising that he would be back
after a while.

That while
was a bit long and meanwhile the band played most of the Family Stone hits. To
make things more complicated, showers started and the audience rushed to put
the raincoat on. Ironically the band was playing Hot Fun in the Summertime at
that moment. This is Finland, indeed!

The Family
Stone delivered the classic funk sound that made it between 1969 and 1972 be
one of the most of exciting live acts in America. But those days are long gone
and without several original members (specially missed is the presence of
bassist Larry Graham) the band plays a correct and safe show supported by one
of the most impressive repertoires a band can have.

Little sister
Vet Stone and Rose Stone’s daughter Lisa Stone, who showcased the most powerful
and beautiful voice of the night, took lead vocals during the most part of the
night with Skyler Jett doing Sly’s part when the old man was not around. In the
group’s family tradition, Sly’s daughter also made a brief appearance for a
short rap that will not be the most memorable moment of the festival.

The band
leader came back to the stage and sang a touching Family Affair, which was a
highlight the show. He also stayed for I Want to Take You Higher, but half way
the song, he left the stage once again with the promise of coming back,
although he never did. The total time of Sly on stage in Pori did not exceed 15
minutes.

The show
finished with an extended Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) that was a
crowd pleaser, although a large part of the audience already had already left
because of the rain. There was no encore and the final result of the show was a
bit under par. With no rain, a smaller place and above all, a more inspired and
motivated Sly Stone, the performance could have been legendary. But it wasn’t.

Front page photo by Maarit Nissinen / Pori Jazz