Wednesday 10 April 2013

Soul With A Lot Of Heart In Club Ziggo

After seeing "The Screaming Eagle Of Soul" Charles Bradley in the documentary 'Charles Bradley: Soul Of America', you only want to see and hear this wonderful man in real life. His life''s story, where he finally gets his break in music at 62, is just amazing. I got the chance to see him perform, when he was announced to play a showcase in Club Ziggo. Even better, he was going to sign records the day before in Amsterdam record store Concerto. Needless to say I went there to buy his latest record Victim Of Love, get it signed and shake the man's hand. It is touching to see how genuinely pleased he seems when you buy his record and tell him how much you love his music. I honestly believe he is grateful for the fact that you listen to his music. And why shouldn't you? It's top notch soul and there's only one thing better than listening to it: seeing it live on stage.

Sabrina Starke at Club Ziggo Amsterdam, April 7 2012
Dutch soul singer Sabrina Starke is the one to warm up the crowd. It's a full house tonight which makes the club a better and warmer place than the other times I was here, when it felt cold. And Starke is doing a good job. I never really noticed her although I knew her name, but she's a great performer. Her voice is strong and her songs are warm and pleasant. She's backed up by a good band who play a nice and grooving set. In the end they get most people to clap along to the music and already we're all feeling good.

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Charles Bradley at Club Ziggo Amsterdam, April 7 2012
But of course everyone is here to see the singer from Brooklyn New York. He didn't bring his full band but is playing an acoustic set instead with only three other musicians. This means only Thomas Brenneck, producer, guitarist, band leader and the one who's also looking after Bradley, is actually playing his guitar. The other two are joining him on harmonies and an occasional tambourine. But Bradley doesn't need much. His voice and appearance are more than enough to impress. When singing he's truly giving everything he's got. His voice is bearing his life story. It's raw and full of emotion and tells the story of a man who's had a rough life.

The songs of the new album don't have the same intensity as the ones on his first record. Those were about his life, the hardships he endured, the death of his brother and the heartaches. The new songs are less deep and tell more about love. But Bradley is singing them with the same amount of heart. Of course 'Love Bug Blues' doesn't have the same impact as 'Why Is It So Hard'. His history of James Brown impersonator is shining through in the way he moves around the stage. But he is mixing the manners of the "Godfather of Soul" with his own style now.

When he's telling everyone he's so thankful for showing up and how much he loves us, it sounds so honest that you just have to believe it. You have to forgive him in the end for repeating it so many times. How many musicians will actually step off the stage to hug some people in the audience? If there was enough time I'm sure we would all get a hug. This man not only is making soul music, this man IS soul music. And at least for tonight he made the world a little bit better for anyone who was lucky enough to be here.

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