Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings at House of Blues, 2/25/2014
Soul music is the alchemy that turns pain into gold, but it takes a proper soul revue to polish that gold until it shines. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings radiate soul with the magnitude of their fearless leader's mirror-ball gown.
Tuesday night before a slow-cooking House of Blues crowd, the Brooklyn R&B brawlers put on a high-energy clinic of style and and endurance that lasted a stout 90 minutes but felt over in a heartbeat. It was one of those shows where even casual fans could get sucked in completely, but one where those who appreciate proper soul music could relish every detail.
That started with a warmup by the eight-piece Dap-Kings -- three guitarists, three horns and two drummers -- and then one song apiece from backup singers "Star" and "Song." Then a duet between the two to get things nice and loose before the main attraction, introduced by bandleader Binky Grip-Tite as fresh from "kicking cancer in the ass."
Jones, if you hadn't heard, took an unexpected detour on the route to promoting the group's third album in about a decade, Giving the People What They Want, when she was diagnosed and treated for cancer last year. Tuesday she especially delighted in the added meaning to new songs such as "Get Up and Get Out," where she exclaimed "I told cancer to get up and get out!" in a moment that could have come from a thousand Sunday-morning Baptist church services. You got chills.
The Dap-Kings are mostly younger fellows with an encyclopedic knowledge of all the different neighborhoods in Soulsville -- Muscle Shoals, Motown, Stax/Volt, Chicago style, and dozens more that are way too obscure for us to know about. But the way they use those vintage sounds never feels fusty or dated, or overly academic.
Every last blast of horns or chicken-scratch guitar break or conga part -- especially during a "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" cover that Jones was careful to point out came from Gladys Knight & the Pips, and not some other version -- was screwed in place like a top-of-the-line automobile or wildly expensive piece of military hardware.
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