Last night I got to enjoy another amazing performance by Sharon Jones and the Dap-kings at the Apollo Theater, along with 1,500 folks at the sold-out show. I loved hearing some of my favorite songs from her new album, “I Learned the Hard Way,” including the title track, “Without a Heart,” “She Ain’t a Child No More,” “The Reason,” “Money,” and “Give It Back” and “Better Things.” She also played several of her hits from previous albums, “100 Days,” “This Land is Your Land,” “Let Them Knock” and “How Long Do I Have to Wait for You.”
As my readers will know, I’ve been pulled onto stage a couple of times at Sharon Jones concerts to dance with her, including the last time she played at the Apollo in 2007 and her Central Park concert in 2008. She’s such an amazing performer and dancer, and being on-stage with her is always an honor and a blast.
This concert, I got called up by her onstage almost immediately! It helped that I scored a seat 2 rows from the front with no one in front of me. Still, very unexpected.
I’m pretty sure the song I was dancing to was “Better Things” “How Do You Let a Good Man Down” (thanks, Hedda!). Anyway, I did my best to represent, without upstaging Sharon herself. According to my friend Zev, the most crowd-pleasing moment was when I stood beside Sharon and escorted her across the stage. So much fun.
I gotta say that with Sharon’s growing popularity, the crowd at the Apollo seemed different than from previous years. I think in her early years, when the Dap-kings would play smaller venues in Brooklyn, it was a lot of hardcore local fans coming out to dance and party with the band. Now that they have gotten a lot more mainstream attention — she was on Cobert Report for goodness sake — she’s pulling in probably a much more diverse audience.
That’s all well and good. More album sales, more single sales, more concerts, global exposure, the whole thing.
But my friends and I agreed that the crowd at the Apollo was a kind of strange mix of folks. Some of them clearly were nonplussed about folks getting up and dancing. My friend Laura got shouted at by some folks when she was dancing in front of the stage. Many were clearly reluctant to stand.
To be blunt: there were a bunch of herbs in the audience.
Now lots of the faithful fans from back in the day were clearly in attendance too. I sat next to a sweet Asian dude in a Dap-kings shirt who had a poster, a tee-shirt and a 45 record he just bought. “I would have bought more, but I ran out of money,” he explained.
Anyway, it didn’t deter my enjoyment of the concert. Sharon and the Dap-kings as usual gave 200% to the audience, Binky in fine form pumping up the audience and holding down the guitar, a smokin’ horn section, three backup singers, drummer, percussionist, string section, organ, and Gabe Roth holding it all together on bass.
Sharon was in fine form — shouting, exhorting, dancing, testifying, pulling folks on-stage and even calling out a couple who just got married. She looked fantastic in a shimmery blue dress and silver heels, which she always makes a big show of pulling off to do her now-standard self-discovery dance number.
UPDATE 5/8/10: Some fantastic pics of Sharon Jones and the Dap-kings, and a couple of me, over at BrooklynVegan.
Sharon Jones and the Dap-kings are playing another show tonight at the Apollo. According to Brooklyn Vegan, they will be back on August 7 to play at Prospect Park in Brooklyn! Mark your calendars now.