Wednesday night’s (April 21) “Idol Gives Back” event featured performances by everyone from the Black Eyed Peas to Annie Lennox, but it was a pair of Brits — and a swampy, often-overlooked American tune that pre-dates most rock and roll — that ended up being one of the night’s most memorable moments.
Singer Joss Stone and legendary guitarist Jeff Beck turned in a simmering, smoky take on Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ 1956 stomper “I Put a Spell on You” — a song that has been covered by a lengthy list of artists, including Nina Simone and Shane McGowan — which managed to take the soulful, primal urges of the original (and most of the covers) and infuse them with both blues and R&B.
Backed by the Jubilation choir, and aided by a four-piece band, Stone and Beck let the song build to a boil, with the 23-year-old Stone starting out sparse, then gradually adding more gravel and gut to her voice, while Beck added flecks of bluesy guitar that eventually erupted into a fret-bending, note-melding solo.
The tune grew and grew, with Stone — dressed in a silver, floor-length gown — vamping across the stage, bending low to draw the notes out of her lungs, while the choir added ominous backup, and Beck, the old pro playing it cool, guiding the song with his reserved, almost flirtatious playing.
Eventually, when things got too hot, Beck, the band and the choir all fell away, leaving only Stone to take the song home. And with one great, breathy bellow, she did just that, going low once again, letting the grit come to the forefront. And as she wailed, Beck brought the band back in to wrap it all up. And as the audience cheered, the duo embraced in the middle of the stage.
What did you think of Joss and Jeff’s duet? Let us know in the comments below!
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