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Issue 1084

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Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires: Forum Kentish Town 30/3/16

Charles Bradley: Forum Kentish Town 30/3/16 PHOTO: Dave Burke @bluesandsoul.com
Charles Bradley: Forum Kentish Town 30/3/16 PHOTO: Dave Burke @bluesandsoul.com Charles Bradley: Forum Kentish Town 30/3/16 PHOTO: Dave Burke @bluesandsoul.com Charles Bradley: Forum Kentish Town 30/3/16 PHOTO: Dave Burke @bluesandsoul.com Charles Bradley: Forum Kentish Town 30/3/16 PHOTO: Dave Burke @bluesandsoul.com Charles Bradley: Forum Kentish Town 30/3/16 PHOTO: Dave Burke @bluesandsoul.com Charles Bradley: Forum Kentish Town 30/3/16 PHOTO: Dave Burke @bluesandsoul.com Charles Bradley: Forum Kentish Town 30/3/16 PHOTO: Dave Burke @bluesandsoul.com Charles Bradley: Forum Kentish Town 30/3/16 PHOTO: Dave Burke @bluesandsoul.com Charles Bradley: Forum Kentish Town 30/3/16 PHOTO: Dave Burke @bluesandsoul.com Charles Bradley: Forum Kentish Town 30/3/16 PHOTO: Dave Burke @bluesandsoul.com Charles Bradley: Forum Kentish Town 30/3/16 PHOTO: Dave Burke @bluesandsoul.com Charles Bradley: Forum Kentish Town 30/3/16 PHOTO: Dave Burke @bluesandsoul.com Charles Bradley: Forum Kentish Town 30/3/16 PHOTO: Dave Burke @bluesandsoul.com Charles Bradley: Forum Kentish Town 30/3/16 PHOTO: Dave Burke @bluesandsoul.com Charles Bradley: Forum Kentish Town 30/3/16 PHOTO: Dave Burke @bluesandsoul.com Charles Bradley: Forum Kentish Town 30/3/16 PHOTO: Dave Burke @bluesandsoul.com Charles Bradley: Forum Kentish Town 30/3/16 PHOTO: Dave Burke @bluesandsoul.com Charles Bradley: Forum Kentish Town 30/3/16 PHOTO: Dave Burke @bluesandsoul.com Charles Bradley: Forum Kentish Town 30/3/16 PHOTO: Dave Burke @bluesandsoul.com

For years, Charles Bradley was a James Brown impersonator in New York. Transfixed after seeing the Godfather of Soul as a young music fan, it wasn’t until he was in his 60s that he began to carve his own musical path. It seemed fitting, then, that his latest London show would be moved to a venue where the Soul Brother Number One played one of his last UK dates.

The Kentish Town Forum was packed to see the 67-year-old soul man, who only released his debut album five years ago.

It’s been an incredible five years for Bradley, who took to the stage just days before his third long player “Changes” was released.

The show had been due to be held at Shepherds Bush Empire, but structural damage meant that it was moved to the place where Brown mesmerised a packed-out crowd 11 years ago.

Having been at the Godfather’s show in 2005, it was intriguing seeing how the two would compare. And the similarities between the two are clear.

Both boasted a powerful, venue-filling scream – it’s not for nothing that Bradley is called the Screaming Eagle of Soul.

He’s also got a full repertoire of Brown-esque dance moves, and his energy levels did not subside for the entire duration of the show. Both performed in front of incredibly well-drilled band – in Bradley’s case The Extraordinaires provided the perfect platform for him to show off his talents.

Yet there’s also a subtlety in Bradley’s voice that is reminiscent of his idol.

An early version of “How Long” – one of the finest soul records to have been released in the last decade – gave Bradley the chance to show off his vocal range.

Falling to his knees – another Brown-ism – his voice filled the large north London venue in a way many of his younger counterparts can only dream of. But to view Bradley solely in comparison to Brown is to do him an injustice – he’s far more than just a tribute act.

The five years since his emergence as a not-so-fresh-faced 62-year-old have seen him evolve as an artist.

His sound is certainly old-school, and yet it was striking that a lot of the crowd were in their 20s and 30s.

It is clear that his sudden rise to the forefront of the soul revival still staggers Bradley, who was noticeably moved by the huge turnout to watch him play.

He’s an artist who wears his heart on his sleeve, brilliantly expressive as he performs, and drawing on the death of his mother to perform new lead track “Changes”.

Over his 90 minute set, Bradley delivered a masterclass in performing soul, brilliantly energetic and yet haunting at moments.

Highlights included a stunning version of “You Put The Flame On It” from his acclaimed “Victim of Love” LP.

Having been thrust into the limelight later in life, Bradley shows no sign of slowing time, and the future is looking bright for this relative newcomer.

He’s well worth checking out.
Words Dave Burke

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