When you buy a ticket to a Sharon Jones show, you are officially RSVPing to the biggest and best party you will ever be invited to. Watching her perform with the Dap Kings at Philadelphia’s Union Transfer this passed Friday night (5-30-14), was to step inside some sort of musical Bermuda Triangle where time stops and all but ceases to exist. Every audience member in the sold-out crowd had their eyes fixed on Jones, who paraded up and down the stage with all the energy and muscle of an Olympian So much so, that many may have left the venue cross-eyed.
Touring in support of their fifth studio album, 2014’s Give The People What They Want, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings are one of the most successful independent acts in the world, routinely headlining festivals and selling hundreds of thousands of albums per year. And so it was no surprise when Philadelphians turned out in droves to see the group and their leader perform with abandon, giving the people what they wanted just like they promised. The 2014 tour is especially powerful for the audience and the group, due to Jones’ recent battle with pancreatic cancer. Her diagnosis and subsequent surgery was announced to the public in June of 2013, and was cited as the reason for the postponed release of their last album. Soon after completing chemotherapy treatments, Jones made a second announcement. This time, it was to mark her return to live performing.
Throughout the night, the soul icon’s vibrant demeanor was absolute and contagious, feeding off of the band and the crowd more and more with every song. Screaming trumpets and dancing blue lights surrounded Jones, whose rich, colossal vocals bolstered the energies and affections of the night’s attendees. Adding to the performance was the old-school showmanship that the Dap Kings embrace, indicative of the group’s adherence to a polish and professionalism that is all but absent In the modern age.
Speaking openly about her health problems with the adoring crowd, Jones expressed her desire to perform live after a long hiatus, acknowledging that some around her worried that it would be too soon. With the Dap Kings still playing behind her, she half-sung, half-talked about how seeing her hair grow back eliminated any remaining reservations, providing her with the permission she needed to make a full return to the stage. It was an emotional moment and remembering the night’s earlier performance of the 2014 album single, “Stranger to My Happiness,” only confirmed that on this day, the beaming Jones could not be more in touch with her own.
Article by: Caitlin Phillips