The legend is intact. All the interview boasts were valid. The godfather of funk is back and bad as ever. Last night, James Brown, "Soul Brother Number One," put his feet to the stage. And poured it on at the Warner Theater.
What difference does it make what the song titles were. Brown's whole show was a ceaseless medly of old and recent hits. The big beat and sexy groove never let up. Brown grunted and was still on key. He cut loose wild shouts and still landed on the beat. He held ballad notes till they seemed to sweat.
He pushed the mike stand toward the audience, ducked down, spun around and caught it on the rebound. He glided to his left on legs that quivered as if his bones had melted.To watch Brown last night was to watch paradox: total abandon and total control at the same time.
In the opening set. Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes proved they have found a stong replacement for the departed Teddy Pendergrass in the towering figure of David Ebo. Last night Ebo, sang so powerfully that he put aside his microphone for a few verses and just belted out his southern Baptist lovers shout while Melvin and Jerry Cummings crooned harmonies silkily.
Comedian Catfish Mayfield marred the intermission with anti-gay and anti-white jokes. Sharon Page sang unimpressively with Melvin; Martha High sang unimpressively with Brown. The entire cast returns for two shows at the Warner tonight.