Charles Bradley, May 17, 2014 @ The Fonda Theater

IMG_0385After seeing Charles Bradley at SXSW in 2013, I vowed that I would try my best to catch him any time he came to LA. He’s that entertaining. So I had snatched up two tickets when they first went on sale and put it on my calendar.

Flash forward to last weekend. We had invited friends over to enjoy a nice LA evening on our new patio furniture. Even though we had talked about the concert that week, it had somehow completely slipped our mind on Saturday. As we were chatting, the subject of concerts came up and one of our friends asked “so have you gone to any concerts lately.” Apparently that was what my brain needed and the connection was made. Oh crap, we actually have a concert tonight. Luckily it was only 7:30. We retreated from the porch, showered, printed tickets and were on the way to Hollywood by 8:15.

When we walked in it was after 9, and we thought the opener would be in full swing. However, they had not even started.  Turns out the scheduled opener wasn’t going to be there because instead a substitute band played.  Death Valley Girls might be a good band, but they surely didn’t pair well with the soul music everyone came for.  Throw in a drunk lead singer and this was not good.  I think most everyone in the audience would have preferred to just hear more vinyl spun by the two DJs that were playing before and after the opener.  Luckily, they didn’t play for too long.

IMG_0395Similar to his labelmate Sharon Jones, Bradley’s band comes out and hypes up the crowd a bit before Charles comes out.  The Mehanan Street Band is a great band in their own right and pair them with the theatric performer in Bradley and it’s quite the combo.  Bradley toiled as a James Brown impersonator for years in New York before being found.  It’s obvious he’s studied the master, and while he cops a few of Brown’s moves, he’s got his own personal touches.  As well as some sweet outfits, first a red suit with a jacket that had a gold “C” and “B” on each of the lapels.  Later he came out in a black suit with a matching cape.

But it’s not all flash.  He’s got a great voice that can hit all across the spectrum, from raucous to tender.  Above all, he seems so earnest in his delivery and humble in thanking both his band and the crowd for showing up and listening to him.  He made that crowd happy by mixing in songs from both his studio albums.  Standouts like “The World (Is Going Up in Flames)” and “Golden Rule” sound even better live.  He closed with “Why Is It So Hard?” a soulful ballad that, like he did at SXSW, ended with him going out in the crowd to get hugs and love from his fans.  Even after the house lights went up, he was still out in the crowd.  I thought it before when I saw him a year ago, and this performance affirmed it for me, Charles Bradley will be the closest thing I’ll come to seeing in my lifetime to what audiences experienced in seeing James Brown.

Here’s a video someone took from the upper balcony at the Fonda:

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One Response to “Charles Bradley, May 17, 2014 @ The Fonda Theater”

  1. Liars and Cherry Glazerr @ The Fonda, May 27, 2014 | Nothing to Write Home About Says:

    […] Cataloging One Man's Musical Tastes « Charles Bradley, May 17, 2014 @ The Fonda Theater […]

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