Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Daptone Soul Revue : 27th June 2014

A packed Shepherds Bush Empire witnesses 3 hours of top notch soul and afro Jazz from some of America's biggest soul artists.

It's 8.13pm on a warm Friday night in West London. As we enter through the doors on 1st, on stage is Charles Bradley, a man who has inspired many to keep chasing their dreams and never give up. His first record deal was only signed when he was 62. Down and out in New York City and living on the breadline, Bradley had lived a tough life. He was looking after his elderly Mother whilst he was continuing to live with the loss of his brother who was gunned down and murdered. Having acted as a James Brown covers act for years just to survive and having lived through many an ordeal, Bradley was spotted and asked by Thomas Brennick to cut a single record with the Menehan Street Band. The rest is history and inspiring history at that.

Now on his second album 'A Victim Of Love', Charles Bradley moves, dances some decent jigs and manages a decent low split that would leave some 40 years younger struggling. His stage craft is bore of 40 years of gigging experience. In short he learned through experience and stacks of difficult crowds. London is simply bowled over. With an audible sweat his songs groove and his voice and story are so powerful and full of emotion, it's hard not to get caught up and both celebrate and cry with him. "Why is it so hard to make it in America" rings out in the auditorium but seconds later he says 'i love you all' . A man of faith too, Bradley uses a 5 minute jam to tell part of his story. He talks about roses and gifts of God before he says "and then there was one more rose, a black rose!". The crowd cheers and the band start up again. The soul fans are dancing on the seats and applauding, not just because of the outstanding quality, but because Charles Bradley epitomises the person who never gave up, who's being blessed and getting his reward. Watch 'Soul of America' for more.

So a tough act to follow, the bridge between the former James Brown impersonator and Daptone legend Sharon Jones, is Antibalas, a group who i'd heard of but didn't know much about. Flooding the stage with a 12 piece band, the afro-jazz groove was often hypnotic and built the audience into a different type of frenzy. The only thing the venue was missing at this point seemed to be a big dancefloor, a low ceiling and free flowing rum but it was of good stuff. An especial highlight had to be Sáré Kon Kon a 10 minute opus Fela Kuti would have been proud of. Had to buy the album after the gig too!

Finally it was Sharon Jones who came on and to be fair was following two acts of an exceptional standard, but she is a pro. Having battled health issues 12 months ago she still had more energy than alot of youngsters, dancing across the stage, firing the crowd up and belting out some classic songs from her catalogue.

The encore involved all the bands on stage singing Sly & Family Stones 'It's a Family Affair' , a true soul vintage and great way to finish the evening.


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