After an enthusiastic introduction from Rock Hall President and CEO Terry Stewart, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings took the Rock Hall stage Friday night the way an old school soul/R&B group would have. The eight-piece band came out first and warmed up by playing a few old-school soul covers, as guitarist Binky Griptite beckoned the capacity crowd at the Rock Hall’s main floor auditorium to get ready for Jones.
They even did a medley of Jones’ tunes to remind people of her repertoire. “This was a museum yesterday, but right now it’s a dance floor,” Griptite said.
And that was certainly the case once the 54-year-old Jones arrived onstage. She took the Dap-Tones energy level higher and launched into a number of tracks from their new album, I Learned the Hard Way.
Early in the set, her cover of Woody Guthrie’s "This Land Is Your Land” swung thanks to the vibrant horn section. And “The Game Gets Old” showed off Jones’ soulful side as she slowed things down for the simmering ballad.
Making the band sound good in the echoing Rock Hall was a real challenge. The blaring, big band-like numbers overwhelmed the room, but the slower songs sounded much sharper.
Still, you couldn’t deny Jones’ raw power After a sweaty 90 minutes of shaking and strutting her stuff in an elegant sleeveless black dress, she returned for a two-song encore that concluded with a stretched-out rendition of the title track from 2007’s 100 Days, 100 Nights. It showed just how tight the Dap-Kings are and how well Jones complements their groovy sound. —Jeff Niesel
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