Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Concert Review; Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings- November 2007 Phoenix Theatre, Toronto

A little after the fact, along with the next few reviews as I dig through my hard drive and upload some more...


Sharon Jones and her incredible back up band revisited Toronto back in October. They put on another excellent performance, steeped in the James Brown soul-funk tradition they have been reviving for most of this decade. Their live reputation has spread largely by word of mouth and the occasional t.v. appearance, but that was enough for Amy Winehouse to hire them for recordings and live dates. While the Dap Kings’ Lee’s Palace and Horseshoe concerts will surely be remembered as some of this city’s funkiest moments in recent years, Sharon Jones and company have ‘moved up’ (spatially, at least) to the Phoenix where they played to an enthusiastic house last time they were in town.

Adhering to the live Revue tradition, the band started things off with an instrumental, and Binky Griptite sang a slow groover before Sharon came on stage and kicked off her heels. Unfortunately, her microphone was turned off, and when the sound man did activate the microphone, it sounded terrible. Sharon made a joke about not being a rock singer, and asked him to change the sound. It took a while for the club to get their microphones working properly, but Sharon was good natured about it.

They performed a solid set which was heavy on new material and some of their earlier cuts, but for some reason they largely ignored their brilliant 2005 c.d. “Naturally”. The new material like the title track of “100 Days” is strong, but Sharon Jones and the band passed over much of their best-loved material tonight. There were certainly a few tried and true crowd pleasers like “How Do You Let A Good Man Down?” and “That’s the Way It’s Got To Be”. Altogether, it was an excellent performance, running almost two hours, including their standard encore set which usually includes a couple of James Brown nuggets. Tonight, we got “It’s A Man’s World” rolled into the encores, and Sharon delivered a blistering rendition. The audience put out a warm reception, and the band still seems to enjoy them selves in this city. Let’s hope Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings keep Toronto as a regular tour stop. If you like soul music, especially in the James Brown and Stax/ Memphis tradition, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings hold their own on stage and off, against many well loved and respected soul veterans.


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