James Brown & the Bowl: Pretty Spry for an Old Guy

— by Caroline on Crack

Hardest working man

Checking out Angie Stone and James Brown at the Bowl might have been the most surreal Bowl experience I’ve had yet. First, that is a 73-year-old man shaking his groove thang up there. Second, that’s the Godfather of Soul up there. And third, is that James Brown doing “The Running Man”?

And the surrealness was exacerbated by how different the crowd of people on soul night was compared to what I’m used to seeing at the KCRW world concerts: Eight-year-olds whooping and hollering, 60-year-old grandmas threatening to throw their panties on stage and posses of teenage white boys puffing marijuana clouds. But in the end we were all brought together this night to witness a legend still in action.

Sure, the man’s voice isn’t the same and we did get cheated out of the cape encore at the end but that man is still pretty spry for an old guy. Every now and again in the middle of his monologue he’d suddenly break into fits of dancing. They wouldn’t last that long but they lasted long enough for the audience to cheer in awe that he could still move so fast. I wonder if James Brown works out?

The show itself was OK. It was more about celebrating this man’s career instead of seeing if he still had “it.” By “it” I mean the voice, which understandably has lost some of its edginess with age. He definitely still has charisma. He danced with the two go-go dancers, played the keyboards for a bit and changed midway in the concert into an electric blue suit. I wish he was my grandpa.

Since my snooze-a-thon at the Zero 7 concert a couple of weeks ago (what can I say? I was sick and had too much wine), I was worried when Angie Stone belted out one soulful ballad after another. And thought for a moment that James was going to let me down, too. But then he broke out with a rousing rendition of “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World” followed up by the popular “Sex Machine” and “I Feel Good.” Before I knew it I was joining the audience on its feet clapping and woo-wooing. The songs were a bit lukewarm, though, since the beat wasn’t exactly strong. And I kinda wanted him to do “Payback.”

No, it wasn’t the best concert I’ve seen at the Bowl, but it was definitely anecdote-worthy. He’s James Brown, bi-atch!