MUSIC REVIEW- K-razy: James Brown knocks 'em dead

If James Brown died tomorrow, I don't think anyone would be shocked. Truth be told, I would be okay with it. I can now officially scratch James Brown from the list of historical musical icons I have to see before I (or they) die. 

I'm still kicking myself for missing The Rolling Stones concert. Who knows when those guys will cash in their Earth ticket? I swore to myself that I wouldn't miss another opportunity like that again, so I made my way (with damn near half of Charlottesville) down to the Pavilion Thursday, May 25, to witness an icon of gargantuan proportions take stage.  

For the few days leading up to the James Brown concert, I found myself engaged in all types of conversations and debates on what to expect from the show. There were haters who talked trash, saying that James was old and washed up and there was no way the show was going to be worth the money..

Then there were the die-hard fans who didn't care if his posse had to wheel the godfather out on a gurney– they were going to be there anyway.  

The day of the event I heard old heads talking about the last time James Brown was in Charlottesville more than 30 years ago. Apparently, a soul-starved population that didn't know how to act ripped U-Hall to shreds. Seats were torn from the floor and all sorts of ruckus ensued. That was a different time in Charlottesville history. I assumed there wouldn't be such antics this go ‘round.  

I entered the Pavilion just as James took the stage wearing a gleaming red silk suit that seemed to change shades depending on how the lights struck it. His band is...well, what isn't his band? There isn't much bad you can say about the troupe backing Soul Brother #1. They may be one of the tightest bands in showbiz, notorious for their meticulous arrangements and ability to go with the flow of the audience's energy.  

James Brown could have been a life-size paper cut-out in the middle of the stage and it wouldn't have mattered. Between the dancers, back-up singers, and accompanying instrumentation there was almost no need for him. Almost.

James Brown has the gift of orchestrating talent. He has a penchant for organizing. As well as a great musical icon, he's a great leader. That's what makes him a great man. When that man grabs the microphone and says one or two words, or with road-weary bones and aged physique busts out a simple dance move, he summons whoever is in his presence to get up and move.  

For 90 minutes he led us through hit after hit and groove after groove of everything we wanted to hear. All the classics. All the songs we've grown up with and loved for so many years.  

Sure, he's not the same James Brown that slid all over the stage, did splits and screamed like an on-key exorcism. In the end, that didn't matter. We love James because he's the living embodiment of the American dream: a man who pulled himself up from nothing into the arms of greatness. He influenced the world with his music. Knowing that, I'm sure he can die a happy man. I'm just glad he didn't kick the bucket before passing through here just one last time.

Note to James: If you're still alive next year and decide to tour, be sure you work "The Big Payback" into your set. I just gotta hear you say, "I don't know karate, but I know k-razy!"