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A seasoned performer who aims to please

Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires / Aaradhna
The Historic Rialto Theatre
Tucson, AZ
August 22, 2013
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Review and photos by Mary Andrews

Charles Bradley has been jack-of all-trades for his whole life. He started to mimic James Brown after he saw him perform at the age of 12. He experienced homelessness in his teenage years. Later he joined the job corps and he worked as a chef for many years. In 1996, he began making a living as a James Brown impersonator under the name "Black Velvet/" By 2002, Daptone records had signed him and released his first album. His hard times have obviously transformed him into one of the most consummate performers around today. The Rialto Theatre was lucky enough to book Mr. Bradley after his recent Lollapalooza appearance.

Charles Bradley hit the stage all decked out in a few layers of clothing that included shirt, vest, and white outer coat. This was unexpected since this was yet another 100-degree day in the Old Pueblo! Needless to say, the white jacket was peeled off quickly. This was not a church revival! Instead, this young audience was told that this was about love and its "victims." It's obvious Charles has "fallen" as a victim of love and certainly, the audience had also been loves' "victims." So, the symbiotic relationship began between Mr. Bradley and the audience and it continued throughout the show. He danced, he crooned, he got down on his knees and sang to each and everyone in the theatre. He would throw his microphone toward the floor, catching it before it hit the floor, and reeling it back in! At one point, I noticed his pants split! I heard whispers from the astonished young audience members, "Are you believing this?"

Mr. Bradley left the stage three times to do wardrobe changes. His band, The Extraordinaires, continued to play during his absence from the stage. He returned as energetic and as passionate as before! By the last wardrobe change, he was down to no shirt and an open vest. During the last song, Charles jumped down into the audience and worked his way through the crowd hugging men and women, alike until the song was over. He, then, immediately went to the lobby to sign and pose for pictures until the last person got to meet him. For $15, this was the best entertainment value I've seen in a long, long time!

I must give a shout out to the opening act, Aaradhna! She is a R&B recording artist and is quitepopular in her home country, New Zealand. She started the night with a 45-minute set. A guitarist accompanied her during her show. Her crystal clear vocals are reminiscent of Lauryn Hill and it was apparent by her performance that she has undeniable talent!

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Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires - Concert review - Milwaukee, WI February 2012

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