by Eric Sandy
Last night at the Beachland Ballroom was a soulful, groovin' affair. The screaming eagle of soul himself, Mr. Charles Bradley, graced the stage and put on a hell of a show for the packed house.
He treats Cleveland right each time he rolls into town, and last night fell right in line with his increasingly divine reputation.
His set ran through the high points of his two albums ("Why Is It So Hard," "No Time For Dreaming," "Dusty Blue"). Along the way, the audience was rapt and totally tuned in to what Bradley was singing. His presence and voice were utterly commanding, and the illuminating warmth of the revolving disco ball overhead only added to the allure of it all. As the encore ignited, Bradley pleaded with the audience to remain true to themselves, to art, to love.
(His personal history is pretty interesting, too, if you haven't read up on him.)
Wesley Bright and the Hi-Lites opened the show, complementing Bradley's set perfectly. Bright has the energy and the voice to really give Cleveland the soul music it so desperately needs. While his horns section needs to wake up or do a round of shots or learn some dance technique, the rest of his band backed him up with tight rhythmic precision.