Review: Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings return with fiery passion, soul at the State Theatre in St. Petersburg
Retro soul stars Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings left St. Petersburg early Friday morning with a renewed spirit, a legion of reenergized fans and, quite possibly, a pretty extensive dry cleaning bill.
During their near-capacity show at the State Theatre, the bald, beautiful Jones and the suit-and-tie-wearing, 8-piece band the Dap-Kings (along with two singing Dap-ettes) sang, shimmied and sweated through their garb like a bunch that had been to hell and back.
Then again, they kind of have been to hell and back.
Up until early this year, Jones, 57, had been sidelined by stage II pancreatic cancer. Her recovery wasn’t easy. She lost her hair, and at times, her joyful spirit, she explained to intent-looking fans. To get back up on stage meant the world to her, she said. And it showed.
Jones was passionate, fiery, feisty, and just plain tough at times. She felt the sound wasn’t up to par during the first few songs, so she took the time to get it right. She’d be damned if something like a sound system got the best of her, she explained. (At one time, Jones was a corrections officer at Rikers Island, you know.)
Then she really found her stride. She dedicated Get Up and Get Out to cancer, appropriately, as a fan waved a sign that read, “Beat the funk out of cancer with soul.”
100 Days, 100 Nights and Retreat, off latest album Give the People What They Want, were wholly inspired and, better still, interactive. Jones serenaded people in the front row. She asked fans to come up and dance with her on stage, an invitation they enthusiastically accepted. She read aloud love notes on napkins that they passed to her. She kissed folks, high-fived them, sang an improvised happy birthday medley to a guy named Jim, danced the robot, the running man, the mashed potato and the funky chicken.
She was all in for anything and everything. It was the single most enthusiastic performance I’ve seen in a long time. And the St. Pete crowd ate it up.
Behind her, the Dap-Kings proved why they’re one of the best live acts on the circuit. They were ready to tackle anything Jones wanted to attempt.
Best known for their session work with producer Mark Ronson, most notably their extensive contributions to Amy Winehouse's album Back to Black, as well as their role as Winehouse's backing band on her first U.S. tour, head Dap-King Gabriel Roth, a.k.a. Bosco Mann, and the gang proved they’re entirely devoted to throwback, jazz-tinged, girl-group inspired soul.
People Don’t Get What They Want paid homage to James Brown, Mavis Staples, Gladys Knight and Aretha Franklin, performers with the same kind of bold, inspired style.
Finally, after nearly 120 minutes of soul-bearing, soul-fired, well, soul music, and one incredibly impassioned encore, Jones concluded, “We’re feeling great tonight, y'all.”
Us too, guys.
-- Carole Liparoto, tbt*