Concert Review: James Brown breaches 5th dimensional space to funk up Calgary

By Kyle Francis

A massive pillar of people huddle inside the MacEwan Student’s Centre. Imposing people in red shirts shuffle along the quivering mass of humanity to make sure no one tries to hurdle the steel gates containing them. When the clock strikes seven, the red shirts converge to the head of the pillar and allow the people to spill forth into the ballroom.

The ballroom fills up faster than a prom date’s loins and they are left to wait. That’s when R&B group Jacksoul steps on to stage and sets the mood for the evening–slow, funky and emotionaly. This is soul.

Jacksoul’s set ends and the huddling crowd again begins to anxiously eye the stage. Minutes pass. People wonder if something has gone wrong, and as soon as they being to imagine all those possibilities, they wish they never let those thoughts burrow into their minds. Just when the tension reaches it zenith, present in every ounce o fyour being, he arrives. “Ladies and gentlemen, the hardest working man in show business, Mr. James Brown!”

Blues suits and flashy ties flood the stage accompanied by funky bass beats and jammin’ horns to form funkapalooza. Dancing girls, backup singers and absolutely mind blowing drum solos highlight the expereience, but make no mistake: The show is all about the sex machine himself. At 71 James Brown may not be able to do the splits, but his amazing voice hasn’t degraded one bit.

Is it even conceivable to give James Brown a bad review? It’s James Freaking Brown! Throughout the concert, Mr. Brown never let the people get bored, shifting to beat on the drops or drop some fresh jive on the keyboard, letting his backsup singers to take the spotlight for a bit. Still, everyone awaited JB’s returned to the mic. To hear him sing live is an experience absolutely everyone should have at least once. Of course, the attending fans were treated to the quintessential “I Feel Good”, but in an unexpected (yet still awesome) turn, audiences got a what had to be close to a 20 minute long rendition of “Sex Machine”.

After Mr. Brown leaves the stage, the crowd gears up and demands an encore, but this only leads to the sole disappointment of the night: James Brown didn’t come back. Although some fans may be upset by the lack of a last song, this one shortcoming of the show did not mar the experience even in the slightest.

People mill out of the ballroom, the red shirts less antsy this time. The experience everyone takes away from a concert like this are bound to differ, but one constant remains true: They all just saw the best funk show they will every see in their lives.

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