Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings - 24/10/2007@Ancienne Belgique, Bruxelles

The album covers, the period recording equipment, the strict adherence to the rules of the genre, or rather, the codification of the epoch, even playing on Amy Winehouse's retro-soul record: all this could have made the Dap Kings' thing seem like a pose, like the vintage get-ups some in the crowd were wearing, or other audience members' less-vintage t-shirts that put quotation marks around soul clichés.

But then, this woman, Sharon Jones, shakes, shimmies, struts and dances across the stage. Her mere presence takes the band, which in the purest tradition had started the show without her, to a higher level. And then, she begins to sing: powerful and clear, grit thrown in as needed. She's electrifying. The kind of voice that hip hop producers want to sample and that house producers get to belt over four-to-the-floor beats. The kind of voice that doesn't even let you imagine thinking about listening to anything else. This is no pose, Sharon Jones isn't wearing anyone else's clothes. She is soul music, and she'll make you soul music, too. She'll pull you on stage* and insert you into her theatrical mini-production. She'll take you through a 200-hundred year genealogy of her dancing style. She'll whip you into a frenzy and cut it off early enough to leave you begging her for more. As Rob Harvilla says, Sharon Jones will obliterate your cynicism.

* Well, not me, but, one by one, four young, good-looking black people from down front, stage right, all seemingly at ease on a stage in front of hundreds of people.