Monday, July 28, 2014
This is my review of the first James Brown concert I ever attended.
A next door neighbor was taking her kids and asked if I wanted to go also.
I was just entering my teens at the time, but I have been a JB fan ever since I heard "DON,T BE A DROPOUT".
I can,t recall everything about the show as it happened that night but I will do the best I can.
My father used to listen to a radio station out of Nashville, Tennessee, that played a lot of the R&B hits of the day.
Only being around 5 or 6 years of age at the time, the only singer that I remember hearing was James Brown.
In 1969 I was taken to a JB concert by a neighbor and witnessed a show I will never forget!
This was James Brown with his late 60s band featuring saxophonist extraordinaire, Maceo Parker.
I don,t remember all the songs but I do remember the band opening with "THE CHICKEN". Then the band,s classic hit featuring Maceo, "THE POPCORN".
Then the lovely Miss Marva Whitney came on and performed two songs, "BALL OF FIRE" AND "IT,S MY THING".
Looking gorgeous in a long blue grown she had the crowd in awe as she belted out her hits, then left the stage.
Let me tell you something; these songs were performed identically like the records ( most were extended in concert)! Then Maceo blew everyone away with an imprompt solo sax performance!
I believe after that the announcer came onstage said a few things pertaining to concert show books and whatnot.
Finally... he brought out the man HIMSELF...
He was immaculately dressed in a white jacket, black silk turtleneck shirt and white pants with black patent leather boots(so shiny you could see your face in them).
Soul Brother #1 strutted on stage and delivered a quick handshake to the announcer.
He went into his big hit,
"SAY IT LOUD I,M BLACK & PROUD!"
The audience sang along with him as he went thru the song and when JB finished, he started rapping with the audience as the band stood silently in the background.
I did recall one thing that he said which really left an impression on me.
"The color of a man,s skin does not make a man."
"A man makes himself."
Still rapping, he held the mike, when all of a sudden...
he spun around and stood in the SAME POSE HOLDING THE MIKE!
This happened in a SPLIT SECOND!
I tell you as I saw it with my own eyes, the man was as fast as GREASED LIGHTNING!
JB went thru his hits from "IT,S A MAN,S WORLD"( he sang live to a tape being played while the band stood around ;at this time he no longer had the three violinists touring with him).
On "LOWDOWN POPCORN", he accompanied the band on organ, playing the song note for note.
His footwork was dazzling as he went from one side to the stage to the other.
The camel walk, the one-legged dance, (especially the James Brown) he performed as we all watched mesmerized!
He spun around three and four times, almost falling on one of the drum sets at one point.
You could actually see the sweat flying away from his body as he worked himself into a frenzy and the crowd along with him.
I noticed he didn,t do the splits at all that night, (I found out later during that period in his shows he didn,t do the splits) nevertheless still had an exciting exhilarating show.
On the live JB concert dvds, "LIVE AT THE APOLLO 1968" and "LIVE AT THE BOSTON GARDENS 1968" ( filmed a month before the former and the night after Martin Luther King Jr. was killed) he did no splits.
Then came his signature cape routine with "PLEASE PLEASE". Mister Dynamite then left the stage to rest for a few minutes.
The announcer appeared again and talked about the concert books and other things that were still available for sale.
We heard the shout, "ONE MORE TIME, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, MISTER JAMES BROWN", as he took the stage one more time.
He had removed his jacket before he left the stage the first time, but did not change his clothes before his finale.
All of a sudden came a familiar scream, "EEEEYOWWW!" The band immediately went into "GIVE IT UP OR TURNIT A LOOSE". followed by his current monster hit, "MOTHER POPCORN"!
The whole audience, worked into a frenzy by this time, (me included)rushed to the front of the stage.
That,s when I noticed how his pants were made. Instead of a belt or buttons in front, they were laced up, just like football jersey pants.
I also noticed for the first time his dancer, the lovely Ann Norman, on an elevated platform behind the band.
I,ve seen (what we called back then)go-go dancers before but this woman was a SUPER FINE FOX!
She was so sexy in that tiny mini-whatever she had on, I wanted to motion to JB to move over so I could get a better look at her, lol!
Someone hoisted a little girl up onto the stage. The child looked bewildered as she stared into the crowd of faces looking back as her.
JB was oblivious to the child, as he was grooving back and forth with Maceo.
One of the trumpet players saw the little girl, put his instrument down momentarily and gently lowered the child back down into the crowd ( so she wouldn,t get in the way or accidently get hurt).
The show ended with James Brown leaving the stage, drained but with a satisfied look on his face, knowing he killed them!
I,ve seen JB about five or six times after that, but I never, ever will forget that first show! Im glad that
I got a chance to see him with the late sixties band.
James Brown is gone now but...
Not only there is a movie titled "GET ON UP" on August 1, 2014 coming out about his life, but there is quite a bit of footage of him available online, like YOUTUBE, and a few officially released James Brown concert dvds out now.
So no matter what you,ve heard about JB, good or bad, mistakes and all, know this; to see him live back then was not just a concert, but an EVENT!
He was a flawed human being (we all are) that pushed himself to the top of the music world.
He had help along the way, but did it HIS WAY!
There will always be imitators, duplicators, people that will take something from him and take it to the next level.
BUT... there will never, ever, be another... JAMES BROWN!
- ▼ 2014 (4)