Willis Earl Beal, Cosby Stage
Willis Earl Beal, Cosby Stage, Friday
As you approach the Cosby Stage, it sounds like a James Brown CD has been cranked up to full volume. Once your eyes have adjusted to the mid-evening gloom, it becomes apparent there is but one man on stage; and although he's wearing a T-shirt that declares himself as Nothing, he's certainly making enough noise to lure a hundred or so punters in.
Willis Earl Beal may be part-performance poet, part-soul man, part-preacher, part Wesley Snipes-lookalike - but the Chicagoan is an unbelievably compelling performer, throwing himself onto his knees and writhing around the stage like a man possessed.
He belts out tunes to an analogue backing track with an undoubtedly amazing voice, but his persona treads a dodgy line between prophet and parody. We'll give him the benefit of the doubt this time.