Concert Review: Charles Bradley & The Extraordinaires

By Noah Boswell

The night ended with a hug, a kiss, and a profuse amount of sweat transferred. I whispered I love you and he gave me a sheepish smile. No, this isn’t my coming out –but a beautiful man did funk me last Thursday night. Charles Bradley – I first heard of him through Spin magazine. He did a cover of Nirvana’s “Stay Away” which is worth a listen (and also a free download if you “like” Spin on FB). This song got heavy rotation on my radio show last semester on WMCN. Naturally when I saw that he was coming to Minneapolis I thought I’d give the rest of his repertoire a shot. After two hours of waiting in Minneapolis’ “Fine Line Music Café” for any sign of music, Little Barrie (of the UK) opened the show. The lead singer/guitarist resembled and seemed to embody all the Ramones rolled into a single caricature, while the drummer was the 1970s. Though great, they left the audience severely unfunked. Or maybe that’s an afterthought due to the insanity that happened next. Either way, they cleared out and The Extraordinaires, Bradley’s back-up band, came onstage and started grooving. But there was no Bradley. After their first instrumental ended and another was beginning we were swelling with anticipation. The second song had deeper grooves and we grew more restless. That’s when the organist came forward and asked if we were ready. We were severely mistaken. Charles Bradley, a 63-year-old man (a Floridian at that), exploded onto the stage. In a sequined gold spandex shirt and gold leather pants the “Screaming Eagle of Soul” blew our minds. It was 1961, R&B hadn’t been ruined yet, hip-hop was a mere spermatozoon, and soul was very alive. And so was this 63-year-old. He started off with a ferocious split, then bounced back upright and robotted across the stage. It was love at first sight. The audience abandoned that awkward, hand-in-pocket bouncing so common in mixed age shows and “got nasty.” A young woman lost her cool and offered herself up to the funk god to be, well, funked. It only got wilder. As the final song was drawing to a close, Bradley thrust his sweaty, sweaty arm into the audience and we flocked. Upon grabbing my hand, Bradley pulled himself down into the masses. He walked among us, hugging everyone in his path while his band kept the funk alive. I was lucky enough to hug him, whisper sweet nothings in his ear, and share a kiss. In short, this was one of the most satisfying concerts I’ve been to, and he didn’t even play the one song I knew. The music is real, and heavy. His CD is called “No Time For Dreaming” (you can find it on vinyl if you’re a dork like me). I’m probably listening to it right now, in class, on the bus, in bed –thinking of his rough screams, soft lips, and sweaty sweat. refresh –>