Charles Bradley

Photos By: Rachel Frank

By: Ty Velasquez

Judging by the crowd of well known audiophiles around me at Charles Bradley’s show at The Observatory North Park, the new king of soul was about to be crowned.

There’s a black hole of soul/funk within San Diego; while the art scene has morphed and grown, the funk music seen hadn’t caught on.

The audience gushed, starry-eyed, about Charles as his powerful voice rattled through our ribs, in to our broken hearts, and spilled out as tears onto our flushed cheeks. So much emotion engulfs you as you listen to each song. As I listened to “The World is going up in Flames” I shifted through each of the scenarios this indestructible being had been through: running away from terrible living conditions with his mother to live in subway cars on the streets of New York, a near death experience from an allergic reaction, and the murder of his brother. More raw pain poured on stage this time in the form of a cover of Black Sabbath. “Changes” had the epic wail within it that earned my hero his title of the “Screamin’ Eagle of Soul”.

Charles Bradley

It was amazing to hear a song I had grown up with sound so different but still so good. Bradley frequently changed costumes throughout the set (a man after my own heart!) and each outfit was pure 1960s revival elegance. This is what performance is about: when the man onstage can cause an entire crowd to laugh, to cry, and want to be better people.

If you haven’t seen this legend perform, make it happen! God Bless America, the home of the Extraordinary Charles Bradley.