There was a prevailing giddiness in the air Friday night at the Fillmore, a palpable sense that we were lucky enough to attend a very auspicious occasion, one above and beyond the usual concert experience. A sense that we were all participants in poetic justice, and by ponying up for a ticket and selling out the joint, a long-neglected talent was finally getting her turn in the sun.
As Sharon Jones will be the first to tell you, record executives have long told her that despite having pipes of gold, she was too short, too wide, too black and too old to fit the Whitney Houston cookie cutter - which consigned her to the B-list exile of day jobs and nightclub gigs, through which she gamely trudged for years.
Until now - now being a year after Amy Winehouse made the world safe for gutsy, take-me-as-I-am retro-soul with her breakout hit, "Rehab," from the Grammy-nominated
Back to Black
- for which the Beehived One employed Jones' backing band, the Dap-Kings.
Some have gone so far as to suggest that Winehouse is the new Pat Boone - a blander, whiter face put on something considered too raw and black for mass consumption. The only problem with that Internet meme is that it completely ignores the charismatic power of the writing on
Back to Black
. "Rehab" is one of those rare songs that rings everyone's bell.
Nothing on Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings' splendidly authentic
100 Days, 100 Nights
manages that nearly impossible feat, despite Jones' mule-kick vocal power and the Dap-Kings' evanescent hints of Booker T's MGs, Smokey Robinson's Miracles, James Brown's Famous Flames and Otis Redding at his most bittersweet - all of which were on display Friday night at the Fillmore, and then some.
Jones was regal and fierce, truly a force to be reckoned with, literally shining like a diamond in her sparkly vintage dress. The eight-piece Dap-Kings lived up to their name, each sporting a stylish vintage suit and never once stepping out of the pocket - not when they played it nice and easy, nor when they played it nice and rough, as Tina Turner used to say. And like all the best soul music, it felt like a resurrection and a coronation.
But most of all, it felt like a party.