Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings @ Albert Hall, Manchester 23 Oct 2014
The concert venue was the recently re-opened Albert Hall – a beautiful building with much of its grandeur, stained glass and architectural magnificence still intact. Its original use as a church was referenced during the evening and quite appropriately so.
The night started with energy from the beginning with Lee Fields bursting on to the stage. A tight 2-piece horn section and a rhythm section doing the business with understated precision – the total opposite to Lee Fields upfront. Known for his James Brown impersonations, this was very apparent in his act, with his twists, spins and James Brown-like screams. Although you were never in doubt that this was not the Godfather of Soul returned, this was nevertheless a fun start to the evening.
The Dap Kings came on stage – cool suited and cool generally which was to be a total contrast to when Sharon Jones herself came on stage. She brought total energy from the moment she came on and held the audience in the palm of her hand. Considering that she has recently recovered from cancer, her energy was incessant, even when she slowed things down in a more of a gospel type rendition of Get Up And Get Out, where she changed the words to talk about her recent experience of kicking cancer, slower did not mean she was taking a break. She appreciated being back there on stage to perform and the audience loved her and every minute of it. While Lee Field’s voice is featured in a new film about James Brown, Sharon Jones rendition of Caledonia was totally in spirit with the legend, while making it her own with references to some different dance moves than the original lyrics and each dance moved demonstrated by the amazing Miss Jones – sometimes without shoes, the only way those dances were going to be performed!
We heard the opening bars of 100 Days 100 Nights and knew that it must be near the end of the show and sure enough we were told it was to be the last song. As Sharon Jones left the stage with seemingly 100% energy intact we realise that Binky Griptite and the rhythm section seem hardly to have broken a sweat. Binky, ever cool, successfully milks the audience, not that they need too much encouragement, to bring back Sharon Jones for a well deserved encore before it was time to go finally home – each person totally buzzing.