So off to the heartland of Manchester student land and a gig at the academy 3. The only other time I had been to the academy in Manchester was over 10 years ago to see the legend that was Mr Solomon Burke. This time although nowhere near the legend status of Solomon Burke the voice was gonna be just as good as were to see “The screaming eagle of soul” Mr Charles Bradley. Bradley is now 65 and only released his first album “No time for dreaming” at the tender age of 62 which beats the mid 50’s release of a first solo album by Henry Priestman which was the previous record in my musical knowledge for oldest age of release of a first solo album. This tour coincided with the release of his second album “Victim Of Love” So the life and path to the first album release of Charles Bradley can be seen on the documentary “Soul Of America” which pops up on BBC and Iplayer now and again and well worth watching. Bradley has had a tough time in parts of his life and at one point earned a living as a James Brown impersonator in local clubs which you can see influences his current performance. But he comes across as a nice super loving christian in the documentary. I can go with the love bit not buying the christianity bit. But a gig review is no time for that and after a couple of pints before we headed into the venue. So the academy 3 was a cosy little venue for a couple of hundred, just the right size for me and things were heating up literally before the gig as it was roasting in there and you had to throw a six to get served at the bar. But that did not put us off and just after 9pm the band came on and we were away.
So three musical numbers to start and the band (The Extraordinaire’s) were great and the music somewhat reminding me of The Blues Brothers band. Then the keyboard player came to the mic and introduced the one and only “Screaming eagle of soul” Mr Charles Bradley and on he came. The crowd roared and with that I knew this was gonna be a great gig performance wise and also that the crowd were bang up for it being there for the music rather than the booze and night out after. With a few musical interludes for costumes changes (Most probably to give the 65-year-old Bradley a well-earned little breather) the stand out tracks for me were “The World (Is Going Up in Flames)”, “No Time for Dreaming”, “Strictly Reserved For You” and live song of the night was a great version of “Confusion” which at one point involved a musical instrument which had an aerial which changed in sound as you went near it (don’t know the name of said instrument) but Charles Bradley was interacting with this “thing” to create some noise and crank up the version of the song which made it come across ten times better live than on the album. So Charles Bradley was as soul and funktastic as we expected and even had us swaying to the more smoochier songs as we were feeling the love and sometimes preaching of Charles. At one point in the gig I thought the preaching had reached epic proportions as my mate Moses (Nice true biblical name for the story) turned to me and said he had been healed. After a quick gulp from me the healing was actually heeling as a girl had stood on his toe !!! So with one encore the gig was over. A belter gig. What Charles Bradley does is nothing new or groundbreaking but it is fantastic and something people of my age and below have not seen live and this was represented by the age group of the crowd. Nice to see da yoof listening to great music and not being brainwashed by the x-faxctor and general shite that populates the charts (sounding like a dad here) One gripe was that the encore was a bit flat but other than that “the screaming eagle of soul” had soared into the Manchester crowd.
Just time for a quick pint afterwards and as we walked down the stairs past the academy 2 venue we noticed that The Orb were playing. A quick glance at each other and we soon realised that those days were well past us. Days which would have involved a night like The Orb going well on into Sunday and onwards. No more mad nights/weekends out for us. Been there, done that, got the tshirt and suffered the comedown. A few quiet pints and some raucous soul and funk for us these days !!
So the morning after and only having 4 pints I was fresh as a daisy as I come out of retirement for a game of 11-a-side football against a police select XI. It was my first game as a veteran now I have reached 40 and we worked out that our centre half combination reached 82 years of age. I managed to last the full 90 mins thanks mainly to us having no subs. In a thrilling “open” match we lost 7-2. With us missing a pen and giving two own goals away !! Cant really expect much more when we roll up every 6 months and try and play a proper game of footy. A more realistic score would have been 6-5 given the chances we missed but we were not good enough on the day. It’s a marathon not a sprint and we are taking each game as it comes and thanks to the fans for their wonderful support.
Fay x x x x x