Charles Bradley – 4-28-2015 – Thalia Hall – Chicago, IL

Charles Bradley has taken the baton from James Brown, Otis Redding, and Wilson Pickett’s charismatic careers and launched himself as one of the premier frontmen in music.

His plights and battles to reach his level of success has been well documented, and I sincerely urge you to watch Charles Bradley: Soul of America to properly absorb his story. He’s battled poverty, homelessness, and near death to get to where he’s at:

Perhaps, it’s exactly his story that augments his genuine presence on stage. The old adage that you “have to know the blues to play the blues” is not devoid of truth.

So, on this misty night in April, as the crowd filled into the intimate Thalia Hall, Charles Bradley’s introduction to the stage delivered rising cheers from a sold out crowd. And as he saunter to the stage, Charles Bradley was front and center.

 

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Currently supporting his critically acclaimed album Changes, Charles Bradley and his excellent backing band the Extraordinaires (providing the Daptone Records sound) mesmerized fans with a ninety minute soul, funk, and R&B showcase. Whether it was the fierce horn section sending nearly everyone into a mini-dance off on songs like “Ain’t It a Sin,” or the gleefully sounding “You Put the Flame On It,” the emotional roller coaster did not end as slow dancing couples adorned the upper balcony with much the same fervency on slower numbers. Even the cautionary “Change for the World” couldn’t stop the crowd from swaying in unison.

However, the notable highlight of the night came roughly halfway through show as Charles and his band played a stunning cover of Black Sabbath’s “Changes” (found on their new album, aptly with the same name). A rendition so potently hypnotic that it justifiably triumphs over the original:

 

In the end, genuine emotions were felt from a man who’s been through hell and back. The crowd fed off Charles’ lovable spirit (and also those slick dance moves). But, honestly, love (both the good and bad) was the common denominator this night. Whether it was through his songs, passing out roses to the crowd (!), or monologues to fans in Thalia Hall, it was in the consciousness of everyone present.

Charles thanked us for all the love to end the night and I’d like to think we loved him right back.

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