Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires - O2 ABC, Glasgow, Sat 5 Oct 2013
The 'Screaming Eagle of Soul' remains a living testament to an age of entertainment gone by
If you’re not familiar with Charles Bradley’s back story – one that includes personal tragedy, years of squalor and homelessness as well as a few more spent as a James Brown impersonator – you’ll likely still love him. Tonight isn’t a case of ‘ahh, didn’t he do well?’.
Sure, the fact that this sixty-something only released his first album two years ago and his latest (and brilliantly titled, it must be said) Victim of Love has been getting the digital mass media incredibly excited to the point that his current headline tour has all but completely sold out, is nothing short of remarkable. But perhaps more remarkable is Bradley’s naturally infectious stage presence, his booming, soulful howl – one that has led to him being dubbed, quite accurately, the ‘Screaming Eagle of Soul’ – and his quite visible joy at being able to perform in front of so many people that are clearly rooting for him. From the moment his Extraordinaires start to play onstage, he erupts into the elderly sex symbol nobody knew they wanted, until now.
Whether it’s carrying the almost literal burden of heartbreak on his back in the form of a mic stand slumped over his shoulder, making our eyes pop out with his spectacularly successful attempt at the splits or simply cutting shapes we could never dream of, with a voice so loud it pushes the PA into the red, yet is soulful enough to wet the eyes of everyone here – the man knows how to kill it. Even when he verges into a bit of elderly confusion, has a bit too much fun on a theremin – to the visible stress of his much younger bandmates – and has to be told when to take a break, the self-proclaimed Black Rose is a living testament to an age of entertainment gone by, but clearly not lost on the capacity crowd here at the ABC; most, if not all, of whom are certainly victims of loving Charles Bradley.