Charles Bradley Tour Dates
12/11 • Centre in the Square • Kitchener, Canada
12/12 • Kool Haus • Toronto, ON, Canada
12/13 • Ritual • Ottawa, ON, Canada
12/14 • Higher Ground • S. Burlington, VT
12/31 • First Night • Pittsburgh, PA
01/16 • 9:30 Club • Washington, DC
01/17 • Bowery Ballroom • New York, NY
01/18 • Music Hall • Brooklyn, NY
01/24 • Bearsville Theater • Woodstock, NY
01/25 • The Wolf Den • Uncasville, CT
02/05 • Pearl Street • Northampton, MA
02/06 • The Columbus Theatre • Providence, RI
02/07 • House of Blues • Boston, MA
02/08 • Electric Factory • Philadelphia, PA
02/22 • NZ Festival • Wellington
02/23 • NZ Festival • Wellington
02/25 • Perth Festival • Perth, Australia
02/28 • Adelaide Festival • Adelaide
03/02 • The Basement • Sydney, Australia
03/04 • The Hifi • Brisbane, Australia
03/06 • Corner Hotel • Melbourne, Australia
03/07 • Melbourne Zoo Twilights • Melbourne
03/08 • Golden Plains Festival • Meredith
03/09 • Panama Fest • North East Tasmania
…or “Black Velvet”, “Black Rose”, “Casanova of Love”, or maybe “The Reverend of Love” – As Extraordinaires organist/hypeman Mike Deller introduced soul singing Charles Bradley to the Mainroom stage at Minneapolis’ First Avenue, the 65 year-old brought down the house with an almost 2hr.long performance that’s showed he’s still getting started, at an age when most people are deciding to retire.
Caroline Smith with full band
Following the intermission, seven-piece soul band, The Extraordinaires took the stage for a three-song instrumental introduction. Caito Sanchez (drums); Paul Schalda (guitar); Freddy DeBoe (tenor sax); Billy Austik (trumpet); Alex Chakour (guitar); Mike Deller (organ); and Vince Chiarito (bass) set the stage ably for the main attraction to enter, Bradley wearing a sequined red-orange jumpsuit with eagle on the back and winged skull belt buckle.
Starting with ‘Love Bug Blues’, Chiarito’s bass thumped a Stax-like rhythm and the crowd was immediately bitten, and swooned with Bradley’s impassioned call to “burn!”
Bradley’s story itself is one of ultimate inspiration – abandoned and homeless as a youth, and hardship years struggling as a James Brown impersonator before being discovered and launched as a solo artist by Daptone Records, as chronicled in last year’s moving documentary, Soul of America. Bradley’s second full-length, Victim of Love (Daptone/Dunham) also became the theme of the night, as he figuratively embraced the crowd of “brothers and sisters” in a soul-splashed shower of love and joy throughout his performance. The heartfelt ‘Crying in the Chapel’ was next, Bradley singing with conviction as if his life depended on it, his style taking obvious influence from James Brown, Sam Cooke, and Otis Redding, while making it into something all his own.
“Let your little heart shine!” Bradley declared before a bouncy ‘You Put the Flame on It’, with transformative lyrics reminiscent of ‘My Girl’. “We DID put the flame on you people!”, organist Deller stated after, as Bradley ducked offstage for a costume change, before being brought back for a “loose and funky” ‘Hurricane’.
A horn-filled cover of Neil Young’s ‘Heart of Gold’ made us all believers that he’d indeed “crossed an ocean for a heart of gold” and his tender side came out for the crooning ‘Lovin’ You Baby’. ‘Strictly Reserved for You’ received one of the loudest receptions of the evening, Bradley spinning, strutting, and emoting, while guitarist Schalda worked his effects pedal soloing.
‘Confusion’ was a driving psychedelic number, while main set closer ‘All I’m Askin’ was prefaced by Bradley noticing all the smiles in the crowd and another thematic sermon on love.
The encore started somewhat somberly, with Bradley revealing his mother, who had just turned 90, has been critically ill back in New York. In spite of this, she had urged him to “go out and share your love”; so composing himself, dove into a more-than-funky mix of early single, ‘This Love Ain't Big Enough For the Both of Us’ which segued into James Brown’s ‘Doing it to Death’. Bradley’s Soul Brotha #1-like moves were on full display- feet shuffling, mic stand tipping, and arms outreached.
This was a performance of great positive affirmation, from a top-notch band and a man finding his second chance in life didn’t pass him by, and who returns back the love and affection shown to him nightly. Charles Bradley brought the love on this night - a perfect, warm feeling to exit on, back outside into a cold and snowy December evening.
Charles Bradley at First Avenue, Minneapolis (12/05/13)