Review: Joss Stone at Red Butte Garden

For British soul singer Joss Stone, the road to the Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre took some twists and turns. Originally, she and KT Tunstall were supposed to appear on July 13. But, in what has become a familiar story for many performers, she tested positive for COVID-19 and cancelled the concert. Stone rescheduled for Aug. 31, but the new date didn’t work for Tunstall’s schedule. Stone then replaced her with funk and soul musician Cory Henry. Stone, meanwhile, flew back across the pond for this show after touring Europe in August.

Cory Henry
Cory Henry (Photo by Raymond Alva/Courtesy Red Butte Garden)

On Wednesday night, Henry’s organ/keyboard and Stone’s full-band setup filled the stage. I expected Henry to start us off, but in the fog of reshifting dates and special guests for this show, I missed the fact that the original opener hadn’t changed. I initially sat befuddled when Rozzi, a San Francisco-based singer-songwriter (accompanied by Shannon Lauren Callihan on guitar), started her set. As soon as she belted out her first song “I Can’t Go To The Party,” my confusion melted to delight at the bonus performance. Corralled on the corner of the stage, Rozzi didn’t have much space to move, but her beautiful voice filled the Garden. Rozzi and Callihan played six songs which included the powerfully soulful anthem “Mad Man.” She ended her set with “Best Friend Song,” a tune that is featured in the new Netflix comedy film Me Time. I’d love to see Rozzi again with a full band to support her captivating vocals and more on-stage real estate for her to expand her performance. She’s a rising star to keep on your radar.

Multi-Grammy winner Cory Henry took the stage next and shared his uplifting jazz and funk vibrations, opening with “Happy Days.” He played organ/keyboards while accompanied by a drummer, bassist, and two terrific back-up singers. On “Holy Ghost” he invited the audience to join him in a funky, soul revival. He raised the spirits of the wine-sipping crowd and brought them to their feet. He played six songs and ended by channeling the spirit of James Brown with “Rise.” He left us on our feet and wanting more, setting the stage for the soulful sounds of Joss Stone.

Joss Stone
Joss Stone (Photo courtesy Red Butte Garden)

When Stone took the stage, the audience learned about another complication in her scheduling saga. Stone is 7.5 months pregnant and scheduled to deliver in October. Yet, here she is darting across the globe to get in her final performance–our rescheduled show–before finally taking a break to deliver her baby. 

She opened with a soulful cover of “The Chokin’ Kind” and her voice showed no signs of fatigue. Ready to run the genre gambit, she quickly moved from sultry soul to pop-reggae. She teed up the song “Sensimilla” by telling a story about feeding cannabis to her cancer-ridden dog. It turned out to be a miracle drug for her little, white puff of a dog, Dusty Springfield. When she asked if weed was legal here, the audience groaned, “No!” She wasn’t surprised. Good thing Dusty didn’t live in Utah. She rounded out her Afro-Caribbean sound with “Harry’s Symphony.” She then served up the title track from her new album Never Forget My Love. The album’s throwback styling is reminiscent of ‘60s soul crooners like Dionne Warwick and the song “You’re My Girl” felt like an old Motown classic, but it still sounded fresh and new.

She sweetened the show with her version of Sugar Billy Garner’s “Super Duper Love,” and the crowd sang along. At one point she left the stage, and walked barefoot on the grass among the first row of fans. In her late-stage of pregnancy, I thought it a pretty daring move. She commented on the blankets on the ground and picnic coolers and how she’d love to come back and see a show. 

As the evening came to a close, she ramped it up with “Music,” an R&B number with hints of hip-hop she originally recorded with Lauryn Hill. I really enjoyed the set finale “I Put A Spell On You.” For her encore, she came out for a climactic “Right To Be Wrong.” Her band and backup singers kept it tight even when Stone seemingly drifted from the script. We enjoyed great sound from the Garden crew as always, and the weather remained perfect.

  • Who: Joss Stone with special guests Cory Henry and Rozzi
  • What: Never Forget My Love Tour
  • Where: Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre
  • When: Aug. 31, 2022
  • Tickets and info: redbuttegarden.org

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John Nelson
John Nelsonhttps://www.saltlakemagazine.com/
John Nelson covers the local music scene for Salt Lake magazine. He is a 20-year veteran of Uncle Sam’s Flying Circus with a lifelong addiction to American roots music, live music venues, craft beer and baseball.

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