Who: Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings with special guest Allen Toussaint
Where: Best Buy Theater, New York
When: December 31, 2010
Capping a tumultuous decade steeped in financial uncertainty, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings provided a salve for the soul with their New Years Eve party at Manhattan’s Best Buy Theater.
Much of the band’s live appeal lies in Jones’s saucy asides. Last Friday night Jones shone at playing her usual showman role, treating the crowd to a set list largely pulled from the critically lauded 2010 release I Learned the Hard Way.
“In New York City, we have that window shopping at Macy’s. I’m talking about those damn eyes,” Jones said, building up to the strains of “Window Shopping” with a rapid fire comedic flair.
The disarming warmth of the Dap Kings’ homegrown sound translated well in the 2,100-capacity venue. Against the usual Dap Kings backdrop of bright horns and funky percussion, Jones sustained her boundless energy level for much of the two-hour performance. At one point, she even kicked off her high heels and summoned African ancestors for a shamanistic dance medley.
The band was fully synchronized from the opening number, the slinky ballad “If You Call” to a propulsive rhythmic buildup for an encore rendition of “100, Days, 100 Nights.” Some of the night’s finer moments, of course, alluded to economic hardships. The horn stabs of “Money” and “No Chimmeys in the Projects” carried a raw sense of urgency, while Jones cracked, “Ain’t nothin’ evil about money because we neeeeed that money.” After a suitably cool take on “Auld Lang Syne,” Jones pushed herself vocally to wring a double meaning from “Better Things.”
“I’ve got better things to do than remember you,” Jones sang. Puffs of fog machine smoke framed her band as balloons and confetti filled the room.
Warming up for Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings was New Orleans songwriter Allen Toussaint.
“There’s no place I’d rather be tonight. I really mean it,” Mr. Toussaint said.
As a songwriter’s songwriter, Toussaint rounded out his opening set with in-the-round stories about his early career and Jimmy Buffett. (“Yes, I’m a Parrothead,” he said to the crowd’s enthusiastic applause.) Toussaint bounded through his succession of hits (“Southern Nights,” “Working in a Coal Mine” and “Mother-in-Law”) with an uncompromising nimble-fingered touch. In fact, Toussaint’s buttery baritone has only gotten better with age. He capped most numbers with booming glissandos for a purely dramatic effect.
— Joey Hood
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Joey Hood has been writing about musicians since 2003. His byline has appeared in “American Songwriter,” “Nashville Scene,” Nerve.com, NPR and “Ya’ll.” He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in mass communication from Middle Tennessee State University with a focus in the recording industry. Read more: Joey Hood | eHow.com.