Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings Heritage Square 3/21/14
Whatever it was that you did yesterday that left you feeling awesome -- no matter how cool it was -- then good for you. But Sharon Jones still kicked your ass. Hell, like one of her Dap-Kings said when he was introducing the force of nature that is Ms. Jones, she kicked cancer's ass. In fact, I don't know what, if anything, you could've thrown in front of soulful songstress as she dominated downtown Phoenix's Heritage Square that she wouldn't have decimated with her overall badass-ness.
Her team of horn players and drummers came out first, followed by guitarists to back the Dapettes -- Saundra Williams and Starr Duncan, who also do the background vocals for Jones -- as they did a handful of tunes from their own upcoming record.
The duo served as the opening act for the night as current tour support Valerie June had to cancel her appearance last night due to a family issue. The Dapettes were no shabby substitute with their equally outstanding voices combining for some catchy soul numbers. And the pair also set the mood with some groovy and cute dance moves.
After they finished up, they moved into the periphery, getting everyone fevered for Sharon's hop onto the stage. And when she did, adorned in her sexy little silver sparkly dress, it was motherfucking on.
Jones started off the set with "Stranger to My Happiness," from their newest release, Give the People What They Want. Her voice was powerful from the get-go and she was at a place way past happy -- more grateful, celebratory and triumphant as she worked her way through the hoppy soulful song with its funky dips that started the crowd moving for the nonstop dance party.
Sharon and the Dap-Kings played a pretty good chunk of the new release, following up the first tune with "You'll Be Lonely," belting it out with fire. A real highlight from the new recording was "Making Up and Breaking Up (And Making Up and Breaking Up Over Again). The recorded version is great, but when performing it live, she tore it up on the vocals, playing with range and having fun adding a little scat to the mix, playing with that wordy title.
It wasn't all new songs, as they traveled through their history, playing songs like "I Learned the Hard Way," and the heavy hitting "Better Things," which seemed to resonate big with everyone as she fiercely stated "I've got better things to do than remember you." Ain't it the truth?
Sharon Jones' relationship with her band is also as great to watch as her killer dance moves. It's a solid union going on with that whole team. Each player so damn solid, effortlessly working their way through the jazzy funked out, soul experience that is their show with precision and sincerity. No goofy showoff-y moments to be found; it's a puzzle that is easily stuck together with respect and good feelings. It shows.
Jones talked to the crowd about how good she feels after her fight with cancer. If it wasn't public knowledge, it sure would have been hard to tell last night that she'd been down at all.
When she said she was feeling the spirit of James Brown, she proved it with moves that rivaled the legend's steps and she also sang about a variety of classic dances, doing each one and getting the audience to, as well. The Jerk, The Swim, The Twist, The Mashed Potato and a few more intensified the dance party that felt like it could go on all night with no complaints.
The band closed it up with "100 Days, 100 Nights," from the 2007 release of the same name. After some healthy chanting, they came back out for their version of the classic "This Land Is Your Land," leaving everyone satisfied. Sharon let everyone know she was going to the merch table to sign stuff, talk to people and give some hugs, so much of the crowd was happy to gather around her for some personal interaction.
A damn fine night of music in downtown Phoenix. Mofo's who haven't seen their own rhythm in years fucking found it last night, dusted it off, and shook that shit because you just couldn't not.
Stranger to My Happiness You'll Be Lonely Calamity Long Time, Wrong Time People Don't Get What They Deserve Slow Down, Love Retreat! Making Up and Breaking Up (And Making Up and Breaking Up Over Again) Tell Me Get Up and Get Out He Said I Can I Learned the Hard Way Better Things Now I See 100 Days, 100 Nights This Land is Your Land (encore)
Last Night: Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings at Heritage Square.
Personal Bias: I knew Sharon and her Dap-Kings were gonna bring it.
The Crowd: Pretty diverse mix of people who obviously love the band and were ready to twist and shout. Also, some handsy creepers who were happy to cop a few feels in the name of a rockin' soul dance party.
Overheard: (While in line for the ATM) "My brother once cried because he couldn't get an ATM machine to work. He's a total baby but I wish he lived here because he would fucking love this show."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.