UNTIL quite recently, 64-year-old Charles Bradley was known only locally around Brooklyn as James Brown impersonator Black Velvet.
But, since the release of his debut album No Time For Dreaming in 2011, he has been performing as himself, aka the Screaming Eagle of Soul. And what a glorious spectacle it is to encounter Bradley in full flight.
He was backed up at this debut Scottish show by his band, the Extraordinaires, an unassuming bunch of mild young men who instinctively know how to deliver a groove, not to mention embellish it with funky horns and heavenly call-and-response backing vocals. They are wonderful players but, with the exception of their organ playing MC, not what you would call performers.
No matter, because Bradley has showmanship to spare, unleashing a thoroughly entertaining array of nifty moves. At points, he would balance his mike stand across his shoulder like a cross to bear before seamlessly transforming into a camp, playful seducer for Let Love Stand A Chance and a gleefully eccentric shaman, doing kung fu battle with a theremin on the trippy psych soul number Confusion.
He is also the kind of old school soul singer you just don’t hear that often any more, a skilled interpreter who communicated the simplest lyric as if his being depended on it, be it the love overture of You Put The Flame On It, the socially conscious petition of The World (Is Going Up In Flames) or the raw emotion of the sparse but powerful Victim Of Love.