Concert Reviews

Charles Bradley Was the Best Opener Red Rocks Will Have This Summer

Colorado weather gave it a rest Wednesday night, allowing a show to take place at Red Rocks Amphitheatre without the accompaniment of torrential rainstorms.

That said, there still was a victim in this scenario, a victim of love: Mr. Charles Bradley. Bradley opened the showcase for Belle & Sebastian, starting with a sorrowful song about the fatal shooting of his brother. Belting powerful screams of agony and anguish from the depths of his soul, Bradley brought forth a mighty stage presence with entertaining dance moves, gaudy wardrobe changes, an intimidating, smokey voice, and an energetic band.

The Menahan Street Band backs Bradley, and did not fail at holding down the groove. Mike Deller — the organist — wore a Navy captain's jacket, providing a visual ranking of the band. He is the captain of the ship and Bradley is the Kraken, all members playing vital roles that give way to an intricate, dramatic battle of love and war.

The Menahan Street Band has been a Brooklyn staple for the past seven years, composed of musicians from Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, El Michaels Affair, Antibalas and The Budos Band. They have a distinct sound that you can pin down to the Daptone and Truth & Soul Records family. They have been sampled by the likes of Jay Z and 50 Cent.

The band comprisesa drummer, two guitarists, an organist who played a Hammond equipped with a Leslie speaker, and two horn players.

Bradley’s first wardrobe choice was a gold 1970s polyester suit, with a custom jacket featuring a pharaoh’s skull on the back, accompanied by a pharaoh T-shirt. In the middle of his set, Bradley left the stage, giving time for the band to do what they do best and caress the audience with the sweet instrumental sounds of soul. Bradley came back out in an all-black get up, a long-sleeved sequined shirt, halfway unbuttoned, ready for action.

Bradley and the band went through an array of songs, including “The World (Is Going Up in Flames)” one of my favorites, as well as “You Put the Flame on It.”

At 66 years old, Charles Bradley still has an abundant amount of energy and humor. Whether he's humping the air, doing the robot or re-creating James Brown microphone-stand techniques, he keeps the people intrigued.

There were a decent amount of fans who came out to see Bradley, and at the end of his set, the singer walked the front row of Red Rocks, giving hugs and conversing with the crowd.

Charles Bradley is a humble and thankful man who has seen more than a lifetime of pain and yet has somehow found the love within this cruel world to pursue happiness, spreading joy and love to everyone who would like to listen, as well as a message of change. He does not steer clear from believing that this is a cold world and that everyone in it plays a vital role. The Black Rose, Mr. Charles Bradley carries the weight of the world on his shoulders and urges everyone to be good to one another and do their part to make this world better. 
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Alex Warzel

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