A sold-out show at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach on Sunday night proved once again that Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings are the hardest-working band in show business and something that can only truly be experienced live.
You can't hear Jones' metal bangle bracelets jangling in 140 characters or less. You can't watch the movement of the magenta fringe on her dress fly back and forth as she does the pony or catch the fleeting smiles of the usually stoic backing band the Dap-Kings on a status update. You don't have the chance to be hand-picked by Jones to dance with her on stage.
The last stop on a U.S. tour to support the new album "I Learned the Hard Way," the soul band proved why live is better than Memorex or UStream as they played song after song, never faltering in energy whether it was a downtempo or a funky groove.
Jones is the dynamic yin, twirling and working every inch of the stage closest to the crowd, looking at the audience dead on as she sings about a man who keeps window shopping in love before exploding in fringe-flying dance moves that rival Tina Turner.
Behind her, The Dap-Kings, led by bassist, producer and Riverside native Gabriel Roth, are the dependable yang . With eight pieces (highlighted by the Dap-King horns as well as guitarist, hype man and well-regarded artist in his own right Binky Griptite) plus two backup singers the musicianship shone just as brightly as Jones' silver shoes.
Roth cued the band with a move of the neck of his bass, a look or even the movement of his dark glasses. Exchanged glances and hand movements led the band through a number of songs off the new album, including "The Reason," "Money," Window Shopping" and "She Ain't a Child No More."
However, the best moment from the new album was Jones performing "Mama Don't Like My Man," with the aid of only Griptite and two backup singers before being joined by Roth and Bugaloo Velez on light percussion.
Other highlights included "100 Days, 100 Nights," "When I Come Home," a stellar souled out and funked up version of Janet Jackson's "What Have You Done for Me Lately?" and the band's version of "This Land Is Your Land," complete with a Riverside shout out.
It's not a substitute for the live show, but you can catch the band on the "Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" tonight.