Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

Opera, music, theater, and art in Los Angeles and beyond

Me and Ms. Jones

July 21, 2008


You know who freaking rocks? Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. At least they did at the Hollywood Bowl on Sunday night, a venue that might seem daunting for their brand of reclaimed 60s soul and funk. Audience participation is their stock and trade and in the giant bowl at a great distance, it initially seemed this would be a difficult evening. But in no time, the incandescent Jones and the tight-as-anything Dap-Kings had the crowd on their feet and in the palm of their hands. The energy level, brash personal and political commentary, and sheer musicianship were overwhelming. In addition to their expected hits, they delivered a remarkable version of “This Land is Your Land” and closed with Jones’ take on James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s World,” twisting that classic into something unique. Fantastic.

Oddly, Jones and the Dap-Kings were sandwiched in the middle of this KCRW-sponsored show with two other acts whose introspective approaches were leveled by the enormous venue. Vancouver’s Pacifika ran through a nervous and brief opening set, but more worrisome was headliner Feist. Her set was plagued with some technical problems, but seemed clearly attuned to a smaller and more intimate setting. Her beautiful but often fragile compositions felt more like a passing breeze. Even the bouncier fare that has led her band into the limelight such as the Apple-commercial-hyped “1,2,3,4” seemed uncertain and hesitant.

So, while the programming folks may have misjudged the proper order of the acts in the show, it was still a night to remember due the presence of Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. Check them out when they're next in your neck of the woods.


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