Daptone Records Super Soul Revue feat. Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens, Budos Band and Charles Bradley
September 19, 2013
Back on an early autumnal, mid September evening, I was in the converted parking lot known as Williamsburg Park to catch the Brooklyn-based purveyors of all things funk and soul, Daptone Records’s Super Soul Revue. And it was an incredible night of funk and soul, along with a little bit of gospel.
I managed to miss most of Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens set and sadly won’t be able to write much about their set but from what I saw of their set, they got huge portions of a typically jaded hipster crowd to feel the holy spirit, much in similar fashion to the likes of Joshua Nelson, the Blind Boys of Alabama and others. And man that Naomi Shelton can sing, boy.
Concertgoers in between set at Williamsburg Park. At least early on, it was kind of difficult to tell what the crowd was actually there for – where they there because it was a free show on a nice night with beer? Or where they there to actually catch music? And why has that been more of a question lately?
The incredibly funky dectet of Budos Band got up on stage with one of the better horn sections I’ve heard this year. Sonically, the sinuous undulating funk of their live set reminded me of Expensive Shit/He Miss Road-era Fela and of Karthala 72’s Diable Du Feau!, thanks in part to the band’s use of organ and keyboard and a subtle bit of Eastern flair. Granted, much like the Western and Americans bands who have passed the good word of Fela to larger audiences, there is a decided lack of danger – and danger was especially inherent in Fela’s work. After all, Fela knew that his continuing efforts to speak truth to power could get him or his family members killed (and yet he was driven to speak out anyway). And although the Budos Band’s compositions are all instrumentals, it doesn’t have the same revolutionary muscle.
If you were unfamiliar with Afrobeat, the Budos Band serves as a worthy introduction to the genre because they can fucking play but what’s Afrobeat without the political message? Just funk, I guess. And that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it as the growing crowd danced along.
More fans watching Budos Band during their sound check.
Charles Bradley, touring in support of his excellent Vicim of Love is probably one of the more charismatic, larger than life performers I’ve seen this year. HIs brand of soul singing owes a great debt to Jackie Wilson and James Brown – Bradley yelps, cries and desperately pleas throughout his songs with hurt and joy while managing to command his backing band, the super talented Mehanan Street Band. Bradley would shout something along the lines of “Bring it down, boys!” and they would follow along, creating a sweaty, improvised feel to both his old material and his newer material.
Album track “Where Do We Go From Here” began with an extended riff in which Bradley talked about how everyone in the audience was his brother and sister – before the band started to blow the fucking walls down. “You Put the Flame on It,” one of my favorite tracks off the entire album was played with a loose, jam-like feel.“Confusion” sounded larger than life and the parallels between the great Curtis Mayfield’s “If There’s a Hell Below, We’re All Gonna Go” were made much more apparent – and at least live, the track had an eerie, prescient sense of menace and turbulence.
He ended his incredible set by telling the Williamsburg Park audience that the songs and the live show were a part of his soul and that he was sharing his soul with us. How can you not like something so simple, and yet so profound? And how can you you not be touched by someone who seems larger than life offering to share every last bit of himself with you?
For these photos and more, check out the Flickr set here: