CHARLES BRADLEY and JOSS STONE at Massey Hall, Monday, September 15. Rating: NNN
During the first half of Monday night’s Soul Explosion, barefoot British singer Joss Stone covered her face in faux modesty (people really weren’t cheering that much), talked about shaking her “tushie,” cooed in the ear of a security guard and paced the stage with a coffee mug telling anecdotes about chick flicks.
Her songs, too, despite her chosen genre, were pretty soulless. For someone with a voice as incredible as hers (think the depth of Adele with the range of Céline), it’s a crime that she didn’t throw in a well-known cover.
Charles Bradley made up for the schmaltz with one-of-a-kind authenticity. Between his six-piece band’s fantastic instrumentals and the long, jammy intros at the end, there weren’t a hell of a lot of Bradley songs. (Notably absent: Why Is It So Hard?) But what the Brooklyn-via-Gainesville funk and soul troubadour – who came to fame very late in life – delivered was heartfelt and, frankly, inspiring.
From his opening number, Heartaches And Pain (a song about his brother passing away), to the last tune, Bradley left it all onstage: gyrating his hips, carrying the mic stand like a cross, dipping into the crowd to dole out powerful hugs, wailing his signature James Brown screeches.