Every now and then, you come across a live show that you wish everyone in Salt Lake City could see. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings delivered just that kind of show Sunday night at Red Butte Garden.---
Of course, all of Utah DID have a chance to see Jones and Co. last year, for free, at the Twilight Concert Series. And while that show was a good time, the more intimate environs of Red Butte Garden made Sunday's show far more memorable. Part of that had to do with seeing a show with about 2,000 people on hand instead of 30,000, but mostly it was due to the diminutive powerhouse leader of the band throwing down a serious soul party.
Jones is a kinetic presence on stage, rarely pausing her dance steps except to address the crowd or to chat with one of the folks in her excellent backing band. Sunday night, Jones and the Dap-Kings delivered a non-stop series of hot originals and covers that had the crowd on its feet throughout. Of course, simply being on your feet is no match for the non-stop shimmies and shakes exaggerated by Jones' gold dress.
Whether presenting stone-cold-modern soul classics like "I Learned the Hard Way" and "100 Days, 100 Nights," or winning covers like Woodie Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land" and the show-closing James Brown burner "This is a Man's World," Jones had full command of the stage from the get-go, and the audience was more than willing to do anything she asked.
That even extended to doing the "Monkey Butt," one of about a dozen old-school dances that Jones taught the crowd, and a slew of folks she brought on stage, around mid-show, along with "The Swim," "The Funky Chicken" and "The Temptations Walk."
As great a presence as Jones is on stage, she'd be a bit less without that excellent group of musicians behind her; the Dap-Kings include a couple of guitarists, a bass player named Bosco, two percussionists, three horn players and the two Dap-Ettes, who both had incredible voices, too. Watching the suave band slowly shed their suit jackets as the show heated up was a treat, as was watching a fine soul band do its thing.
Among the other highlights, songwise, were "Mama Don't Like My Man," "Longer and Stronger," "When I Come Home" and a stirring "How Do I Let A Good Man Down?"
Next time, Jones and the Dap-Kings come to town, do yourself a favor and buy a ticket. And brush up on your Monkey Butt beforehand.