Charles Bradley is living proof that the American Dream is still alive. After learning about his life from the documentary “Soul of America”, I made an effort to catch his afternoon set at FYF Fest in 2013. His performance was a highlight of that day. When I heard that he was to perform at the Fonda Theatre, I knew that it was a show that I couldn’t miss, so I bought myself some tickets, knowing that it would be a show that would ultimately leave a smile on my face, and put a groove in my step.
I’d been dreaming about seeing Mr. Bradley perform in a club venue since the first time I saw him perform. His performance at FYF Fest opened my ears to his music, but it was talking to him at the festival that really left an impression on me. He specifically told me that if I loved his show, that I should catch him in a more intimate venue. With a photo pass in hand, in a venue like The Fonda, I figured that this would be about as imitate as it would get for me.
Mr. Bradley’s performance was otherworldly. Watching him perform though the lens of my camera, I could see the all of the emotion emoting from his soul. The intense emotions expressed while singing “Why Is It So Hard” to the wild dance moves he bust out throughout the set, amazed me that a man at 65 could perform with such fervor. His voice, weathered by the rough life he has lived, covered the entire emotional spectrum, from passionate moans, to indignant rebellion, to tender cooing. It was all there.
Perhaps the most impressive thing to me was the love he openly expressed: his love for his band (the Extraordinaires), his love for the music, his love for the opportunity to perform … but most importantly, his love for his fans. It was a sentiment that was echoed by him throughout the evening.
“I love you!” he shouted out to the audience, “I love you so much. If it wasn’t for you,” he said pointing to the audience, “I,” moving his hands over his heart, “wouldn’t be here, singing for you all.”
His love was infectious. So much so, that he even had me yelling from the photo pit, “I love you, Mr. Bradley!” He glanced down in my direction after I yelled like a child, so I think he may have heard me.
But I wasn’t the only one reciprocating the love back to the stage. For as much as Mr. Bradley gave to the audience, the audience gave it right back to him tenfold. After finishing up his encore, he jumped off the stage to hug fans who were lined up at the front; each fan giving Mr. Bradley a tight embrace. A fitting conclusion, to a concert that was all about … love.
I couldn’t find a setlist online, so if anybody has it, or knows what it was, please let me know in the comments so I can add it to this post.
Charles Bradley is scheduled to perform a FREE concert on the Santa Monica Pier on September 11, 2014. I suggest you schedule your plans accordingly and attend that show.