ALMOST 30 years since the release of their debut single, Soul II Soul arrived at Salisbury City Hall promising (via Twitter) a happy face, a thumpin' bass, for a lovin' race. What they didn’t promise, to be fair, was that Caron Wheeler, the iconic vocalist on their two international smash hits, was actually going to be able to sing a note. Wise move, no one wants to over-promise after all. So after taking to the stage, accompanied by main man and original ‘funki dread’ Jazzie B, to warm applause, the disappointment in the room, when she attempted and completely failed to sing the first few lines of Keep On Movin', was palpable.

Thankfully, Soul II Soul are not a band – they’re a collective. So Jazzie did not panic at the sight of his floundering ‘sister from another mother’. Instead, from his position at the back of stage, where he seemed to be controlling proceedings, he simply picked up the mic and called ‘Charlotte Kelly report to the stage please’. Within seconds another, albeit slightly less iconic, Soul II Soul lead singer was on hand to take us through the rest of the gig swiftly moving on from Keep On Movin’ to I Care to the song she originally sang, after Caron had left the collective to pursue solo projects.

Jazzie’s apologies and promises of Caron’s later return meant that it didn’t take long for the assembled group of middle aged Salisburyites to accept what had occurred. Before long we were all grooving along to a string of lesser known but well-received numbers with 1990s Get A Life, preceded by an energising address about the need for unification during a time in which the world is in a ‘funny old place’ being a high point.

The show came to a close with the collective’s only number 1 single, Back To Life, which saw Caron return to the stage to look on from Jazzie’s control station whilst Charlotte did an admirable, if not altogether authentic, job. Caron even whispered an apology afterwards and promised she’d be back in Salisbury – and on this showing I feel sure the group would be more than welcome.