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Live Review: Charles Bradley, Wilsn

8 April 2015 | 10:03 am | Holly Keys

"The songs all sound like instant classics and Bradley’s delivery is passionate and intense, sweat dripping from his face."

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Before Bradley hits the stage, Melbourne soul singer WILSN plays a few tracks. She has bright blue hair and a rich, textured voice. She plays bluesy pop and is backed up by a poker-faced guy strumming funk guitar.

Charles Bradley’s band The Extraordinaires take to the stage. They jam for a few minutes, amping up the crowd before Bradley walks out and everybody explodes. He has a huge grin on his face from the moment he hits the stage, saying, “Thank you,” and, “I love you”. He starts off with Heartaches And Pain and when he screams it resounds through the audience. Bradley got his start as a James Brown impersonator but, while he has a voice and yelps akin to Brown, he exudes a charm and eccentricity all his own. The Extraordinaires all stare at Bradley with admiration as he belts out another tune. The songs all sound like instant classics and Bradley’s delivery is passionate and intense, sweat dripping from his face. He soon jumps into the splits. Bradley smiles and people take selfies with him as he lies on the stage singing his timeless blend of soul and funk.

Bradley walks off the stage and his band jams again, the trumpet and saxophone now taking centre stage. He soon returns in a different outfit – a rhinestone-covered turquoise jumpsuit and matching jacket. He looks amazing. He then tells the crowd, “I do this for all of you and I just want to make you happy.” His dancing is weird, provocative and totally effective. Bradley jumps into Confusion, a different kind of track that has an almost space-age backing. He screams, “Fear! Greed! Confusion!” Bradley then speaks to the audience, all of whom hang on his every word. He tells us that God made the red rose because all of our veins run red. We scream and clap before he starts singing The World (Is Going Up In Flames).

The last song of the night is Why Is It So Hard; Bradley lifts up his arms and is illuminated by the white lights behind him. The song is emotional and he sings it slowly, stopping intermittently to tell the audience that we should follow our dreams. Bradley then jumps into the crowd, walks through and hugs people individually. Everyone pushes forward, hoping to get a chance to touch him. He has to be dragged out by security but, with tears running down his face it looks like he would have preferred to stay here all night.  

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