A little over a year ago, Sharon Jones was at death’s door. A little over a day ago, she headlined the Stravinski Auditorium the final act of five which Daptone Records has mounted as a classic soul revue. Solomon Star (formerly the Dapetts), a vocal duo, started the night out, followed by Sugarman 3, but the heavy action began with Charles Bradley.
Bradley toiled in semi-obscurity for years as a James Brown wannabe, but has recently come into his own, a combination of James Brown and Elvis Presley, if there ever was one. Sincere and religious, Charles Bradley knows that sex sells, so on the one hand his lyrics talk about True Love, faith, God and all that good stuff, while his body is communicating a whole ‘nother side of good stuff, with hip thrusts, butt wagging and a lot of meaningful kisses towards the ladies in the crowd. Bradley knows how to make a direct connection with his audience, and he takes that to the max that the end this show, where he spent a good ten minutes out in the crowd pressing the flesh and being pressed. I don’t mean just touching a few people in the front row I mean way, way out in the crowd.
Antibalas (“bulletproof”), the next act, was visual in the extreme, making Charles Bradley’s Mackie-type suit look like a Catholic-school uniform. Caribbean/Afro rhythms dominated this mostly instrumental set, and it ratcheted the crowd up another notch, in preparation for Sharon Jones.
Jones burst onstage with enough energy to power all of Montreux, and that’s a lot of neon, trust me. While waiting for the show to start, I’d spoken with a brash Portuguese who said he knew someone in the band. Jones hadn’t been up 10 minutes before she called to him onstage, and the two did an entire dance. The Portuguese, a good ten years younger than Jones, climbed back over the barricades, ecstatic but clearly exhausted by the effort, while Jones herself continued on for another 90 minutes, non-stop. She poked fun at herself and imitated Tina Turner, who is currently tied with Jones for the hardest-working woman in show business.
More than anything, Jones put on a good show. She explained that Daptone sent the Revue to Europe first, which is welcome news for those of us in the States, waiting to get a taste.
– Suzanne Cadgène