The Time I Cried At A Mavis Staples Show

by - September 01, 2023

Photo courtesy of Dana Gorab

Me, Jack and a good friend of ours, Joe, were at Primavera Sound Barcelona in 2022, and after a wild couple of days in which we saw the likes of Pavement, Beck and Fontaines DC play some memorable sets (often not coming on stage until around 2 a.m. due to the heat), we were feeling pretty broken and fragile. First on for the final day was one of the acts we were most eagerly anticipating for the whole weekend… The legendary Mavis Staples.

En route we were equipped with some of the finest baguettes filled with Barcelona's freshest ingredients, meticulously put together by Slam’s very own chef, Jack Batch, after two days of practise/eating little else than bread, cheese and cured meats. Immediately upon arrival at the venue, they were confiscated by security which was very upsetting.

We soldiered on however, and Mavis was first on inside an auditorium, the only indoor stage at the festival in a room so dark that the three of us kept stumbling over each other trying to navigate our way to a seat. Anyway, although it was absolutely packed, we managed to find three next to each other in the end and safe to say we were all absolutely blown away by the show. Not only were Mavis and her band out of this world (her voice sounded incredible), at 82 years old she accompanied the songs with some wholesome and at times hilarious stories full of her Mississippi charm. Glorious covers of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” and Funkadelic’s “Can You Get To That’ met the beautifully performed “Respect Yourself” and the set finished with “I’ll Take You There” - and oh my, did she.

It was the perfect remedy to mend our broken selves, sleep deprived from the previous couple of days. In the darkness we weren’t able to see each other’s faces, but as soon as the lights came on at the end of the show, it became clear that all three of us had been crying our eyes out at sheer greatness. And I’ve no doubt that we weren’t the only ones… In fact I’d bet that half of the auditorium was tearing up under the shadows of the stage lights. A gig we’ll never forget!

P.S. Much like a “bag store”, upon exiting the auditorium a space had been made to store our baguettes which we gleefully collected. A true happy ending.

- Jonny Ball, Slomo Casino

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