Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
September 23, 2010
Better than: well, not beholding the power of music that can make a white man try to dance.
Last night, an audience of about 600 people at the Palladium Showroom (formerly Gilley's Saloon) were treated to the power of a diva in a sequence dress--not once, but twice.
And while the musical sensibilities of the two frontwomen on this bill were not as matched as they seem on paper, each was a treat in their own way.
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals kicked things off with a blast of energy at around 8:30.
Grace is a babe, and was decked out in a short balck sequin dress that wouldn't look out of place on a Vegas lounge singer, showing off her long legs with good effect. With her blond hair flying, she belted out a set featuring songs from the band's self-titled album, released this past summer.
The band hails from Vermont, and the Nocturnals looked like they are caught in an early '70s time warp in terms of physical appearance and musical style. Potter, an engaging lead performer, moved between a Flying V guitar and Hammond B-3 organ, shimmying across the stage between the two. Finishing the set strongly with "Paris (Oh-la-la)," the band took a collective bow before an appreciative audience.
After a break of 30 minutes, the Dap-Kings took the stage to kick things off in the way of a classic soul revue. A sharper dressed bunch you won't likely see in a band, with a three-piece horn section, drummer and percussionist, two guitarists and, on bass, the man behind the shades, bandleader Gabriel Roth.
The band ran through a couple of R&B instrumentals to warm the crowd up and get themselves dialed in, and were then joined on stage with a couple of backup singers and the soul dynamo herself, Sharon Jones.
Like Grace Potter, Ms. Jones was in a sequin dress, but the effect was more Detroit than Vegas. And that's a good thing.
She hit the ground running with "If You Call" and for the next 90 minutes didn't slow down but twice to catch her breath. With a set that drew heavily from their latest release I Learned the Hard Way, she pulled audience members up on stage to join her dancing throughout the night. And dance they did.
At one point (during "How Do I Let A Good Man Down") she in invited the ladies in the audience up from to get up and dance, and just as things seemed to be getting out of control, she stopped more from coming up without missing a note or shimmy. Maybe drawing on her past as a Riker's Island prison guard, Jones then picked groups of four girls and got them to (reluctantly in some cases) to dance off the stage, leaving her with one towering (over the short Sharon) audience dancer left to rave with her.
Musical highlights included "Mama Don't Like My Man," "Window Shopping," and the closer "100 Days, 100 Nights." By then, even the most stoic members of the audience were shimmying.
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Jones then danced off stage with as much energy as she came on with, which was more than could be said for most of the audience.
Personal Bias: I've heard past comparisons of Grace Potter to Janis Joplin, and in my mind I've heard a kind of clean Lucinda Williams. Neither of those are quite fair, though. The band's brand of rock last night was much more Southern-fried rock than soul and blues.
By The Way: Some of Dallas's own local divas were at the show last night, including Amy Currow and Cricket Taylor. They were dancing up a storm.