• 10May

    Friday Night Light – Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

    Walking into the Apollo Theater is a trip.

    The carpets, the pictures, the old school stucco walls. It’s like an old Cadillac — back when “it was considered a classic before the drastic change in production when cars were metal instead of plastic”. They just don’t make venues like the Apollo anymore.

    The place has an energy to it like the hotel in a certain Stephen King novel. It shines with ghosts both friend and foe. With Sharon Jones in the building, it shined just fine.

    Bathed in a dull red glow from the lights overhead, opening band the Mellomatics hit the stage promptly at 8. Like the Dap-Kings, the Mellomatics are a classic Rhythm and Blues band. While possessing a solid sound, the group is far from spectacular. This could partially be attributed to the fact that the group is mostly comprised of musicians who have hit big with other bands, most notably Binky Griptite who is the lead guitar player and front-man for the Dap-Kings. (Please note the man part of that statement.) Besides a few nice duets between Griptite and singer/birthday girl Meah Pace, the dancers were the sets true highlight.

    Halfway through the show, The Mellomatics brought out a pair of ladies to “dance”. In addition to looking like 70’s porn stars, both were just bizarre. Their motions wreaked of intoxication and one of them wasn’t even on point enough to stop gyrating/convulsing when the music stopped. The whole scene was like an American Apparel ad gone wrong. Like a car accident, it was hard to look away. Eventually the set ended, the curtain came down, and anticipation rose.

    Time for the real show to begin.

    When the curtain lifted revealing the Dap-Kings’ extensive big band setup, it was like suddenly being transported back in time 30 years or so. The band — complete with backup singers, a timpanist and a string quartet — was eighteen people strong, all onstage together. Incredibly tight, sharply dressed, yet somehow lacking without its nineteenth member, Ms. Sharon Jones.

    Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings are an R&B/Funk/Soul band credited with reviving the essence of 60s and 70s funk and soul music through the use of traditional analogue recording equipment instead of modern digital methods. The Dap-Kings have performed with Kanye West, Mark Ronson, and most notably Amy Winehouse — contributing significantly to her 2006 album Back To Black, including smash hits “You Know I’m No Good” and “Rehab”.

    After the band ran through a couple warm up tunes, Ms. Jones burst onto the stage following a brief introduction stating “there is a star in the building.” The truest statement of the evening.

    Rocking a glittery blue dress that was tight in all the right places, Sharon Jones immediately took over the show, hitting her first note with the force of an eighteen wheeler coming down the highway. (Meah Pace who?) Within minutes she pulled someone onstage to dance with her (a ritual that occurred a few more times throughout the night). There was no doubt who was the star of the show. Looking back on it, I’m not sure if she ever stopped moving from the moment she touched the stage. Arguably the most intense night of the spotlight operator’s career.

    The band mostly played songs off its new album, I Learned The Hard Way, but the audience’s relative unfamiliarity with the tunes did little to dull enthusiasm. The crowd was intense and raucous throughout the night. Its doubtful that an overindulgence in spirits was the reason for the energy, although there were some skunky smells circulating throughout the evening.

    Besides the new tracks, Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings tossed in a few of nice touches, like when the band covered “This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land” (complete with shout-outs to both Harlem and Staten Island) as well as when it encored with the popular single from its last record, “100 Days, 100 Nights.”

    Sharon Jones is like a little ball of get-up-and-go, darting around, singing and bellowing (always in a ladylike fashion). It is impossible to not feed off her presence. You could have heard a pin drop during her new ballad “Mama Don’t Like My Man.” Her voice commands that kind of attention. Ms. Jones also knows how to rock the house and get things going. The Dap-Kings are incredibly in tune with her ever changing performance style, complimenting her perfectly. Even in a venue as legendary as the Apollo, Sharon Jones was able to shine and dominate the stage.

    Her picture will make it on those hallowed walls soon enough.

Discussion One Response

  1. May 11, 2010 at 7:49 am

    Bathed in a dull red glow from the lights overhead, opening band the Mellomatics hit the stage promptly at 8. Like the Dap-Kings, the Mellomatics are a classic Rhythm and Blues band. While possessing a solid sound, the group is far from spectacular. This could partially be attributed to the fact that the group is mostly comprised of musicians who have hit big with other bands, most notably Binky Griptite who is the lead guitar player and front-man for the Dap-Kings. (Please note the man part of that statement.) Besides a few nice duets between Griptite and singer/birthday girl Meah Pace, the dancers were the sets true highlight.
    +1