Charles Bradley is most easily compared with James Brown: The energetic Soul music, the yowling, and the acrobatics with the microphone. But, at KINK's Skype Live Studio we learned that the young Charles Bradley actually met his inspiration as a teen, who advised him to do amateur nights at the famed Apollo Theatre. Bradley told the story of being sabotaged by the judges when he was forced to sing Brown's "Man's World" in an incorrect key, in order to ensure the victory of a favored competitor. This is the kind of revealing information one can glean from a Skype Live Studio performance, intimate half-hour shows in Downtown Portland's PacWest Center. I am excited to announce that reviews of Skype Live Studio shows will soon become a recurring feature of "The Crippled Critic." These performances typically occur at 12:00 or 3:00 (sometimes both) and last for around 30 minutes, so as to fit comfortably into a lunch-hour. You can RSVP at Skype Live Studio.com, and winners will be e-mailed guaranteed seating, though thanks to the larger venue provided by the PacWest Center, oftentimes standby tickets are granted to "walk-ins." These shows are frequently hosted by KINK On-air Personality Steve Pringle, one of KINK's most knowledgable commentators. This particular Skype show was slightly shorter, (two songs instead of the usual three or more.)
Luckily, I was granted tickets to Mr. Bradley's Crystal Ballroom show later that evening. He put on an astonishing show. He's in his sixties, and yet bounded around the stage in ways that would likely be difficult for a man half his age. Bradley's new album is called "Changes" and it takes its name from a Black Sabbath song of the same name which Bradley soul-ifys.
I've seen Mr Bradley's full shows twice now, at the Crystal and the Oregon Zoo. Both times he ended them on heartfelt positive-notes, imploring his audience to think and react always with love, and he is a shining example that it can be done.