Unlike his last area appearance, when he turned in a perfunctory performance opening for James Brown, Wilson Pickett was in classic form at the Wax Musem last night. Backed by a kinetic, horn-heavy band, Pickett applied his full-throated and raw vocal style to most of his big hits. He quickly packed the dance floor with hip-grinding performances of dance favorites like "Mustang Sally" and "In the Midnight Hour."
Part of the joy of Pickett's performance is in the cocky stage persona that earned him the title "Wicked." He entertained the crowd with engaging raps on the virtues and vices of love and sex. But if there were musical highlights to his show, they were not in the up-tempo numbers or in Pickett's clowning, but in "I'm in Love" and "Hey Jude," songs that proved Pickett could still save a soul or two with an impassioned ballad.
Although nowhere as big or as brassy as Pickett's band, local soul revivalists Jr. Cline and the Recliners are still a well-oiled soul machine. Cline's rhythm section knocked out a flawless Memphis backbeat, while the horns answered Cline's vocals in perfect counterpoint. Cline wasn't particularly dynamic on stage, but he has a fine gravelly voice and nailed down a neat version of J.J Jackson's "It's Alright."