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Charles Bradley @ Kool Haus – Toronto Live Review

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Charles Bradley at Kool Haus, December 12, 2013

Charles Bradley – Kool Haus — December 12th, 2013 — Photo by Joe Modzelewski

Who: Charles Bradley
From: Brooklyn, NY
Where: Kool Haus
When: Thursday, December 12, 2013

Total Score: 9/10

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Not too many have lived a life as inspiring as Charles Bradley. Even fewer faced the trials that he has gone through. Growing up in near extreme poverty, hitchhiking homeless across America, and facing other extremities of life with little, if anything, to fall back on, the 65-year old Bradley channeled all of his life’s miseries and joys into music and performance. Not too often do you hear of a 60 year old releasing their debut album, but the age never stopped Bradley. Always pushing to chase his dreams and vision, Bradley is a voice of hope for those who find themselves in troubled times. Bradley now has two full length records released on Daptone Records and in the three years since his debut release, he has garnered himself mass critical acclaim and a near cult-following of devoted, enthusiastic fans. His revivalist approach with soul and funk music of the 60’s is able to avoid the trappings of simple nostalgia, instead offers a contemporary take on a classic sound that is never out of style. The Kool Haus was packed with eager fans from all walks of life. This in itself proved how a seemingly niche genre can connect with so many different people.

Jay Vons kicked off the night with a very fun and easy to dance to set of soul and funk that managed to also avoid any sort of redundant feelings of nostalgia. Their songs were all catchy and easy to pick up and sing along to, even on a first time listen. They had the whole crowd bobbing along. Singing songs of love and the joys of dancing, Jay Vons heated up a venue that was frigid from the weather outside. Jay Vons were a great opener and surely gained some new fans that night with their modest, but effective set.

Charles Bradley and his backing band, The Menahan Street Band, took their time before hitting the stage. The crowd was growing anxious, but eventually the backing band appeared on stage and let out some jazz and funk instrumental pieces. The crowd loved it and the music was getting everyone more and more excited for the main showcase. After the couple of interludes, the keyboardist took the mic to welcome Charles Bradley to the stage in exuberant fashion. The crowd went wild and when Bradley took to the stage with his arms wide open, he seemed to envelope the audience in his presence.

Bradley put on a fantastic, soul-wrenching, gut-twisting, tear-jerking, laughter-inducing performance that was quite unforgettable. He was very genuine and the passion in his voice and body language was so blatantly evident that you could not help but smile and enjoy every second of the show. Bradley put so much emotion and zest into each song and seemed to sing his heart out as he incorporated not only sultry smooth tones but also ravaging screams that made the hair on the back of your neck stand up and bring about goose bumps all over your body. Bradley embodied each and every lyric and note and the awesome moves he pulled off were very impressive. There was just no way he looked and or acted like your average 60 year old.

Decked out in some bedazzled outfits, and I say outfits because he even did a costume change, Bradley was exhibiting a showmanship that many would feel is slowly and unfortunately on the decline. He put so much into the performance that the whole audience was ecstatic, proving that he is an artist you do not want to miss. If anything, seeing him perform just reinforced the overarching notion that there truly is something special about Charles Bradley.

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Review and Photos by Joe Modzelewski

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The Scene