“There’s no time for dreamin’. You gotta get on up and do yo’ thang!” – Charles Bradley
Everyone’s been hoping for a music renaissance, but few have dared to set it in motion. Bravely stepping up to that task is Charles Bradley. After 62 years, the former cook’s tribulation-heavy life story and gritty soul music have finally come together to form a perfect sound. One that both transports us to the honest, heart-felt music of the ’60s and ’70s, yet nestles fresh and comfortably in today’s world. Supported by The Menahan Street Band, Charles Bradley’s show is like a smorgasbord for the eyes, ears, heart and soul.
The audience, 20 to 30 years his junior, gathered around the intimate stage as if preparing to behold a miracle. Some fans fell in love with Charles’ music as recently as a week prior to the show, while others knew him from previous bands in New York.
Beginning the show, The Menahan Street Band (who’s founder, Tommy Brenneck, has ties to Amy Winehouse, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings), laid the show’s funky soul foundations as they played three instrumentals. Fans applauded their hit, “Make The Road By Walking,” made famous as a sample on Jay Z’s “Roc Boys (And The Winner Is)” from the American Gangster motion picture soundtrack. Dressed in vests or suspenders, buttoned up shirts and pressed slacks, the five piece band (trombone, trumpet, baritone sax, organ, guitar, bass, and drummer) were a refreshing sight.
The audience itched to dance to their full, bulletproof grooves, but no one dared blink in anticipation of Charles’ arrival to the stage. Cutting the suspense, the organist exclaimed, “Ladies and Gentleman! Are you ready to take flight? Introducing the one and only Charles Bradley!”
The crowd roared as Charles took to the stage wearing a black vest, sequined with the image of New York City’s skyline, tucked under a white military-style blazer and matching slacks. Showcasing his hits,”The World (Is Going Up In Flames)”, “Why Is It So Hard” and his album’s title track, “No Time For Dreamin’,” he thrilled with an eleven song set and one song encore.
Dubbed “The Screaming Eagle of Soul,” Charles’s voice is reminiscent of James Brown and Otis Redding. Pain, hope, joy, and love are felt in his voice, as he closes his eyes, sweats, drops to his knees, gyrates his hips, spins and dips the microphone.
Unlike many of today’s larger than life acts, he remained very accessible and familial, humbly bowing after every song, connecting with the audience. Breaking barriers, he asked audience members to shake hands and say hello to each other because “It’s all about love.” Showing his gratitude, he stepped down from the stage and into the audience to give everyone hugs. Reflecting the gratitude, his fans surprised him by singing “Happy Birthday.” To which, he humbly replied, “My brothers and sisters… My birthday is November the 5th! But, this shows me where your heart’s at. Thank you. I love you.”
Charles Bradley’s original live show is an unforgettable, inspirational sight that all should behold.
His album, No Time For Dreamin’ is available on iTunes and in Vinyl on Daptone Records.