***** (5 stars out of 6); April 29 at Lille Vega
When Charles Bradley stepped off the scene at last year’s Roskilde Festival, those present knew they’d just borne witness to something legendary. ‘The Screaming Eagle of Soul’, as he is commonly referred to, had put on a smashing show that featured him breaking down in tears, as he has been known to do every now and again at his shows. The concert went on to be declared one of the best of the festival by much of the national press.
While Bradley didn’t burst into tears on his return to Denmark at Lille Vega on Sunday, he did, however, give the audience a memorable experience that explains why so many herald him as the James Brown of our time.
Bradley’s backing band, The Extraordinaires, got things going with a trio of feisty, anthemic non-vocal tunes that sounded like they’d been ripped straight out of Gordon Park’s epic 1971 film, Shaft. Bradley stepped onto the stage amidst a rapturous applause and already two songs into the proceedings was sending ripples down the audience’s spines as songs off his only album No Time For Dreaming created something of a frenzy.
The first part of the show featured more sentimental tunes such as the powerful ‘The World (Is Going Up in Flames)’ before a short instrumental interlude allowed Bradley to drift off stage to catch his breath. He came back guns a-blazing with a cover of Neil Young’s ‘Heart of Gold’, followed by a series of songs that allowed him to showcase his arsenal of dance moves and rant about the state of modern-day America.
It’s not every day that one sees someone in their 60s do splits on stage, let alone sing with the power, prowess and sheer emotion that Bradley manages at his shows. The man is a living marvel and an inspiration to anyone out there who thinks it’s too late to do anything, having released his only studio album last year at the age of 62.
Bradley gave the audience at Vega on Sunday a show that they’ will be thinking about for a while and one can only expect even greater things from the Florida-born Screaming Eagle of Soul, a man who sings with the evocative flair of Otis Reading and has got a dance-move repertoire equatable to that of James Brown.