David Sinclair at the Roundhouse, NW1
Considering he released 16 albums under his own name, Jim Capaldi remains a surprisingly low-profile 1960s hero. He died two years ago from stomach cancer, and is still best remembered as the drummer and co-songwriter in Traffic, the group he founded in 1967 with Steve Winwood, Dave Mason and the late Chris Wood.
This celebration of Capaldi’s life and music, organised by his widow, Aninha Capaldi, and featuring a heavyweight cast of friends and admirers, including Winwood, Pete Townshend and Paul Weller, inevitably focused in the first instance on the Traffic connection. Weller opened the show with a nimble version of Paper Sun, and returned in the second half to tackle the complicated, psychedelic-pop of Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush before signing off with a bullish Pearly Queen. Winwood, after a long and rather meandering slot with his own band, strapped on a green Stratocaster and revisited his days as a reluctant guitar hero with a suitably histrionic Dear Mr Fantasy, the title track of Traffic’s first album. And Townshend rolled out a version of No Face, No Name, No Number which kept threatening to turn into Pinball Wizard.
There were contributions from Joe Walsh, with a spirited 40,000 Headmen and John Barleycorn Must Die, a mountainous slow blues from Gary Moore, solo turns by each of the three backing singers — Dennis Locorriere, Stevie Lange and Margo Buchanan — and backing- group contributions from Bill Wyman, Jon Lord, Simon Kirke, Andy Newmark, Mark Rivera, Ray Cooper and others.
But perhaps the most interesting moments were the glimpses into the personality and less celebrated areas of Capaldi’s music. The compere Bob Harris spoke movingly of Capaldi’s boundless enthusiasm for music from many different genres and origins, while Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) told of Capaldi’s love of Brazilian music. A recurring theme was Capaldi’s tremendous fund of positive energy, which Townshend recalled drawing on when he was organising the celebrated run of concerts at the Rainbow for Eric Clapton in 1974. Paul Capaldi sang a remarkably accomplished version of Gifts of Unknown Things, his voice eerily reminiscent of his brother’s.
While Jim Capaldi’s repertoire may have been somewhat lacking in the sort of big box-office hits that gala performances of this nature usually demand, the tribute was all the more personal and heartfelt for that.