Charles Bradley at Trees, 4/27/14
Everybody loves a nice feel-good show every once in awhile to kick out the cobwebs and revive the spirit from the doldrums and disappointments of everyday life. However, it is rare and unique to see a concert so positively charged, fueled with such raw passion, and as spiritually and mentally empowering as "the Screaming Eagle of Soul", Mr. Charles Bradley. Last night, for the launch of Do214.com at Trees in Deep Ellum, Bradley did what he was born to do: use the power of live music and storytelling to cut right through the bullshit and touch the souls of everyone in the room. Tears were shed and hearts were full on this truly moving super soul Sunday.
The crowd at Trees' outdoor side lot was ample and diverse around Bradley's sunset set time, dressed in their best early summer Sunday best. The women browsed the Easy Slider and Bombay Street Food trucks in sundresses that they've been dying to wear for months, and the men looked on admiringly in their gauzy button downs, perusing wares from Pan Ector and Tumbleweed TexStyles. Patrons mingled to the sounds of a soul 45's set after openers RC & The Gritz started the evening off. The perfect warm and breezy weather to the forecasts of thunderstorms and tornado-force winds.
When it came time move inside for Bradley's set, his adoring backing band started in with a vampy and funk-driven walk-on. Bradley's bearded organ player introduced him as not just a victim of love (which happens to be the title of Bradley's early April release), but a doctor of love. And when Charles Bradley stepped onto stage, letting out a roaring "Hello Dallas!" in a sharp white motorcycle-cut jacket, the doctor was most certainly in.
The pure fire and intensity in Bradley's voice is disarming, and deeply visceral. For a man that has known hardships and setbacks that few can truly fathom in this life, he has a way of making his passion and pain accessible to any kind of music fan. Whether it was a heart broken lament, an amorous ballad, or a downtrodden plea to simply catch a break, the sentiments in Bradley's lyrics were authentic and evocative.
The Extraordinaires, Bradley's backing band comprised of seven extremely talented musicians in their own right, never skipped a beat and hit every cue with flawless execution. The young two piece horn section was especially exciting to watch, building up the vigor and severity in each song.
After almost two hours, three costume changes, and a whole lot of dirty dancing, Bradley gave a tearful and gripping sign-off: "When I was homeless, during the hardest times," Bradley said, "I found a reason to keep going -- and that reason is right here in front of me." Then he jumping into the crowd to embrace those that he refuses to refer to as fans, but rather as brothers and sisters. And those brothers and sisters wept in his arms, thankful that they had just found a reason to keep going as well.
Mike Brooks Mike Brooks