Godfather of soul brings his groove back to Korea

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Godfather of soul brings his groove back to Korea

On the evening of Feb. 24, Jamsil Gymnasium, south of the Han River, packed in 3,500 spectators, most of who grew up watching ― and admiring ― James Brown on video. Were they disappointed to see the legendary performer live? Not by a long shot.
For two straight hours, the “Godfather of Soul” at 72 proved that the spirit of rhythm and blues is far from dead. The concert kicked off with the nostalgic instrumental number, “Soul Power” by Brown’s eight-man band, and when Brown appeared on stage in a scarlet red tuxedo and crooned “Make It Funky,” the crowd went delirious, breaking into thunderous applause.
The simple stage set-up, with only black curtains, magnified Brown’s kingly presence, and his swinging band wearing red-and-white ensembles and the female chorus Bitter Sweet, strutting and dancing in shiny blue suits, were a fitting entourage.
Brown couldn’t be jumping and doing the splits, his legs in mid-air, but his subtle motions ― strutting, sliding and rowing and suddenly coming to a complete halt ―were groovy enough to get the crowd jumping off their seats, and dancing and singing along to all-time classics such as “I Feel Good” and “Living in America.”
“I’m twice as old, but I feel good,” Brown told the audience.
Brown’s live appearance last week came nearly four decades after he last entertained American soldiers in Korea’s demilitarized zone in 1968. “Bullets were flying in and out during the concert,” Brown recalled backstage, according to Sang Baik, the promoter for his Korea concert.
The concert was part of Brown’s Asia-Pacific tour that started in Australia followed by China. After his performance here, Brown flew out to his next gig in Japan.


by Ines Cho

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