The Chapel felt like a Baptist church as Charles Bradley preached the title track of his new record, Changes (even if it is a Black Sabbath tune). The man is an incendiary performer, bringing together bits of Al Green, Otis Redding, and the legend he first saw perform at age 14, the one he was impersonating the night DapTone discovered him in 2010, James Brown. There were three wardrobe changes over the course of the evening — lots & lots of sequins. The band is a well-oiled machine of classic Stax soul power.
For the second night of two sold-out shows, Bradley tossed a bouquet of roses into the crowd one by one, his beautifully wrinkled face expressing the deepest appreciation and compassion that Valencia Street has seen in the last 20 years. When he spoke of his mother’s recent death, he encouraged the audience to acknowledge the struggles every mother goes through, suggesting everyone should return that love and devotion despite all the negativity that can also exist within the mother/child relationship. The crowd seemed a bit uncomfortable with the message, but hopefully it will sink in.
Identical twin guitar & drum instrumental duo, the Mattson 2 opened the night with an explosive set. An all-too-rare double-neck guitar made the duo sound like a trio. Touring relentlessly, I have effortlessly caught these guys four times in the last year or so, once in an SF living room, once in a barn in Big Sur, at Oakland’s Starline Social Club, and now this. They never fail to deliver an energized set of jazzy surf rock.