October 23, 2010
The Palladium Ballroom
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Roy Turner
Photos by Roy Turner
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
If you've seen Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings live, then it's my bet you'll do what you can to catch them the next time they swing through your town in a blaze of horn-heavy deep-funk and soul-revival splendor. They are that good.
Sharon Jones is a soul-singing dynamo, and the Dap-Kings are just ridiculously tight and professional players of authentic soul, funk, and gospel. Chanteuse and band are greatly complemented, their dapper restraint the perfect backdrop for her no-nonsense, incendiary stage presence.
There were no bells or whistles in terms of stage set, just a black backdrop with the initials SJDK in white lettering-ßall the fire was in the performers themselves. Jones owned the stage, strutting her way around it in a short, sequenced, mint-green dress, the band behind her in dark-colored suits that just permeated the room with hip sophistication.
They played an explosive set consisting of a good deal of songs off their latest release, I Learned the Hard Way. Sharon Jones would hoist members of the audience up on stage throughout the course of the night, which was a success most of the time, but sometimes was more awkward than anything. A few of the guys she brought up on stage to serenade did nothing but sway around nervously with an embarrassed smile on their face, but at one point she called six or seven women up on stage and the eclectic mix of personalities all were getting down appropriately and gelled into a kind of funky chorus line as Sharon Jones went wild in front of them.
The unequivocal highlight of the show was Sharon Jones and her irrepressible, never-ending energy, which along with the amount of sweat dripping from trumpet-player Dave Guy constituted the two seemingly supernatural phenomena of the night. Her intensity never came close to waning, and, to be honest, the audience wasn't up to task. The crowd should have been a full-bore, sweat-dripping dance party, and though there were people dancing, it was fairly restrained for all that Sharon Jones was putting out. That would have been the ideal situation, but realistically it would have taken the bartenders slipping something extra in the drinks for anyone to even think about having a chance to keep up with the "dynamite" queen of funk and soul.
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings restore my faith in a band's ability to preserve a type of music while still making it sound timeless. The ensemble has it all: Virtuosic talent, songs that harken the golden days of soul music, a catalog that has its own classy edge. They played "100 Days, 100 Nights" for the encore and left the stage for good to another round of wild applause. Just the real deal.