Gary U.S. Bonds wears his past beautifully. Struggling outside the changing tides of rock 'n' roll over the past 20 years, he's managed to survive by following that most primitive instruction -- make a joyful noise.
At the Bayou last night, Bonds celebrated his Bruce Springsteen-inspired revival with songs from his new gold album and his quite distant past, including "Dear Lady Twist," "New Orleans" and "Quarter to Three." Bonds' voice has worn as well as the smooth body language from his late '50s and early '60s rock era: the shuffled steps, fingers snapped to the lyrics, hands clapped on the joy beat.
In fact, it was the unceasing celebration of the beat, mixed with some fine new material (courtesy of the Springsteen camp) that led the capacity audience to dance in place and join Bonds in anthems of perpetual adolescence, like "This Little Girl." Even "Daddy's Come Home" -- in which Bonds slyly submitted his own name at one point -- echoed a time when the mournful edge of the blues had all but conceded to the rhythm.
Gary U.S. Bonds and his audience, fully enjoying their moment in the fun, spelled it out over and over in "Dedication" -- basic, participatory rock 'n' roll is here to visit.