FOR soul fans the news that the Tower of Power were to play a date in Manchester was something they had given up hope of ever experiencing.

But next week it’s actually going to happen. Widely acknowledged as one of the best brass sections in the world, the band which will be celebrating 50 years together next year will be at Manchester Academy supported by the rising stars of the British soul scene - Stone Foundation.

“I think the last time we played outside London was when we came through in 1974 as part of the Warner Brothers Music Show,” said the band’s leader Emilio Castillo. “But since then we have never played anywhere outside of London in the UK. It’s been a thorn in our side for years.

“We’d play gigs in London and they would be packed and fans would ask us why we didn’t play Manchester and we had no answer. We’re very pleased to finally get there.”

The Tower of Power grew from a group of friends’ love of music.

“It’s crazy to think that next year will be 50 years,” he said. “I didn’t think like that. At the age of 17 my aspirations were to get to Sacramento.

“We were kids and got together and wanted to play rock and roll. After a couple of years soul music just took over our lives and became a passion for us.”

That passion led to the distinctive Tower of Power Sound.

“Initially we had three horn players,” said Emilio. “I was like a kid. You know, you do something, you like it and you do some more and before you knew it I had five horns and that kind of evolved into our signature sound.”

Often compared to some of the great outfits of the big band era but with a soulful twist, Emilio says that audiences remain stunned by the Tower of Power’s live shows.

“The live show is really one of the major components of the Tower of Power,” he said. “It is an exciting show, you leave sweating and out of breath. That’s our job, that’s what we’re supposed to do.

“People come to the show not knowing what to expect and when they witness it live they are walking out of there shaking their heads saying ‘what did I just see?’ It’s a different experience. There’s nothing like being at the live show watching 10 bodies grooving to the max, playing all this soulful and emotionally moving music.”

Emilio puts one of the keys to the band’s longevity down to the members of the band.

“We have had some really great people come through the band,” he said. “About halfway through my career when I stopped being an idiot and I started living right, I realised that it’s really a smart thing to hire people that are sane.

“I started looking at the person just as much or even more than who they were as a musician and that has served us well over the years.”

The latest musician to get the seal of approval is the band’s new lead singer Marcus Scott who joined in April last year.

“He’s a fine young man and has such a great range in his voice,” said Emilio.

On average the band is on the road 200 days every year.

“We have kind of learned how to do that over the years,” said Emilio. “We know how to take care of each other. It’s a big family.”

Tower of Power with the Stone Foundation, Manchester Academy, Thursday, October 14. Details from 0161 832 1111