Revival Meeting

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Middle East Downstairs, November 9, 2007
By WILL SPITZ  |  November 13, 2007
DO YOU BELIEVE IN SHARON? Consider Cambridge converted.

Slideshow: Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings at Middle East Downstairs, November 9, 2007
You can bet Amy Winehouse didn’t sweat like this. At a sticky-hot sold-out Middle East downstairs last Friday, Sharon Jones — backed by her eight-piece old-school soul/funk powerhouse the Dap-Kings, the same band who accompanied the aforementioned tabloid turtledove at Avalon back in May — was the anti-Amy. Whereas the most movement Winehouse mustered was some distracted hair twiddling, the 51-year-old “super soul sister with the magnetic je ne sais quoi” — in guitarist Binky Griptite’s Danny Ray–esque introduction — was an absolute dynamo, careering around the stage like the hyperactive love child of James Brown and Tina Turner, dancing with audience members, eliciting in-tune on-time “ooh-ooh” back-up vocals from the crowd.

Jones and her band turned out a show similar to the one they played at the MFA’s outdoor Calderwood Courtyard last August, alternating between up-tempo burners like “Keep On Looking” and slower, silkier songs like “100 Days, 100 Nights,” the title track from their newest album on Daptone Records, with Jones doing the same mid-set shoes-off dance tribute to her African and Native American ancestors. The Dap-Kings, dressed sharp in suits, were tight as a gooseberry, subtly shifting grooves with a tambourine rhythm here and a harmony guitar line there. At the MFA there was plenty of room for folks to shake ass, a luxury lacking at the Middle East. But that didn’t stop people from trying, including one middle-aged couple who got down on top of a bench at the back of the mezzanine. Before the encore of James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World” and their funked-up version of “This Land Is Your Land,” Jones said, “I feel like I’m at church having a Sunday-morning revival.” Consider Cambridge converted.

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