"Soul Cruisin' at the Empire" - Paul Carrack in concert at the Shepherds Bush Empire, London, December 16, 1996. Review by Naomi Thomas. Picture courtesy of A. Perry/TWR.

This was a down to earth show played to people who knew just how to appreciate it. It was also a very audience involved show, in which the crowd could sing along with the songs played and all the crowd were egged on by Paul himself.

Great audience participation numbers included "Oh, Oh, Oh, My, My, My" and "How Long?", as well as "Over My Shoulder" and "The Living Years". Playing with Paul were Tim Renwick, guitarist from The Mechanics and Gary Wallis, also from that band. The guys onstage certainly gave it their all. There was some absolutely stunning guitar playing by Tim who improvised during the excellent "Over My Shoulder" with full audience participation. Tim really carried the middle part of the song on the guitar. Paul apologised afterwards... "Put your hands together for Tim Renwick... I put him on the spot there... that should have been a piano solo... great improvising!" all of which was greeted by raucous yells from the crowd.

This show really got everyone involved and Paul just didn't stay behind his keyboards all night; he quite often danced his socks off and really let the audience know he appreciated everyone coming along. He said thank you to the audience for coming out so near Christmas. Paul often encouraged the audience to make as much noise as possible and everyone did. There was not one person who didn't groove away all night he would even hold the microphone over the first couple of rows and shout... "Let's hear it people, let's hear you sing. Are you singing out there?" Paul would ask and virtually everyone would sing.

The live version of "Over My Shoulder" was the most moving rendition I have heard Paul's voice was absolutely stunning. I have never heard such a soulful voice - he really is an underrated singer, and after this show he deserves all the respect he gets. I had never seen Paul live before but I certainly would again. This was one hell of a gig and there wasn't a single person who went away disappointed. Let's hope he tours again soon!

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