Concert Review: Charles BradleyPosted: September 8, 2011
When a friend asked me to accompany her to see Charles Bradley at the Biltmore last Friday I had no idea who he was. When it was explained to me that he was a soul/funk artist it didn’t exactly peak my interest at first. Funk and soul weren’t really my thing (although I have a huge appreciation for the music, I find that I rarely seek it out or actively select it in my iPod) but I decided to go anyway for the good company and a chance to go to a show.
And boy, am I glad that I did. From the moment I heard the sounds of those first sweet horns I knew that I was in for a good night. Then Charles Bradley appeared and it was like we were being transported to the 60s/70s, watching what would have been the lovechild of James Brown and Otis Redding had Charles not been born around the same time as them. What surprised me was that the songs Charles was performing were from his debut album No Time for Dreaming, released earlier this year. The fact that he’s approaching his mid-sixties and just getting started inspired me not to give up on my band dream quite yet.
As can be assumed, Mr. Bradely’s path to a career in music was by no means a direct one (more like a really f-d up game of Snakes and Ladders according to his bio) as he’s had his fair share of hardships. (Un)fortunately for him, hardships are just the thing soul songs are made of. When he started wailing: “Why is it so hard to make it in America?” I wanted to shout right back: “I know what you mean, Charles! It IS f’n hard!” and was immediately brought back to my first few months upon moving to San Francisco, sleeping on a borrowed futon that I shared with my sister and eating rice mix for days on end. But then, mid-song, Charles literally BROKE DOWN on stage and asked the band to tone it down while he shared with us a story about a hardship that clearly trumped mine (it involved being sent to prison for something that wasn’t his fault). At this point, I just wanted to go up on stage and give the man a hug. I’m sorry I didn’t as I’ve gone up on stage for far less noble reasons (i.e. to take possession of the mic).
Below is a clip of Charles Bradley performing the aforementioned “Why Is It so Hard” in Seattle (didn’t manage to capture any footage of my own, I’m afraid). As you can see, he doesn’t just give it 100%, he gives it 110%, and for that reason I’m giving him a 6 out of 5 rating. If you happen to be near any of these American or European cities do not think twice about buying a ticket.