Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings: Live at the Warfield 1/28/09
It's a Wednesday night at the Warfield, and the place is packed and ready for Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings. The blockbuster soul grooving duo has everyone riding their train. Noah had forty days on the ark, and Sharon Jones had way more than hundred days and nights, waiting for the world to see her anointed queen of soul. The 52-year-old singer’s time in the limelight has been short, but her experience dwarfs her contemporaries. You’d never know how amazing she really is, until you see her live.
Standing a mere 5’1”, Sharon Jones stage presence might as well be 10’. Her amazing voice is only a part of what her show has to offer. Whether doing the hustle, teaching a twelve year to “Be Easy,” delegating stage dancers, or singing her ass off—Sharon is a performer and entertainer. With record sales plummeting, stage presence is everything for the success of a band, and Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings have nothing to worry about.
Even Lou Reed can’t say bad things about Jones. Recently returned after touring with Reed, Jones has perpetuated herself into the forefront of the soul singer revival. Her voice is strong, commanding and yet soulfully smooth, a combination few singers can boast. Matched in skill, The Dap Kings perfectly balance Sharon’s presences; together they form a soul train without brakes. The Dap Kings may be “backing,” but they’re also basking in their own fame after their stint with Amy Winehouse.
Listening to Sharon Jones is like smelling soul food cooking from way outside the house, and being reminded of that feeling of old goodness. At her best, the singer is comparable to the great soul singers of her generation; I’m talking Aretha Franklin, Etta James and Tina Turner. When both are at their best, the group’s feel is equitable to Curtis Mayfield.
Throughout her performance, Jones brought members of the crowd on stage. “Uh uh not you,” Jones said to a dancer trying to get on stage. Jones, “calls the shots.” Leading the way, the band played hits from their newest album 100 Days, 100 Nights. Then there were dance lessons. “You remember the boogaloo?” Jones asked the crowd. Instructing the crowd, Jones showed off her boogaloo, mashed potatoes, and pony (these are dance steps if you didn’t know).
It was the twelve year old who stole the show. “Let me keep this light, Andrew you got to BE EASY,” Jones said to Andrew, dressed with jean pants to his waste and a tucked in polo shirt. When he hopped onto the stage, the boy got down. Showing off his robot-dance moves, circa Napolean Dynamite. Introducing the song “Be Easy,” Sharon Jones schooled Andrew on ways to treat a woman; meanwhile, excited by the crowd’s attention, Andrew randomly interrupted into dance steps, blushing occasionally. Be easy Andrew.
No show should go without a small appreciation of Obama. After talking about the need for change, Jones did a rendition of Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come,” which sent chills down my back. Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings create music that is so soulfully classic that it could be just re-released from forty years ago - you could be easily fooled. That’s the amazing thing, is just highlights the timelessness of great music.