The Fillmore wasn’t totally empty this past Sunday night, but it surely wasn’t full. Curtains were drawn midway through the seating area. The second tier of seating above was closed off. A handful of people sat in the available seats while the rest stood before the stage digging an opening set by Bobby Lee Rodgers. Rodgers came to support the main act with a half-hour of solo electric guitar to warm up the audience.
About a half-hour after Rodgers’ set, the stage curtains rose to reveal a huge nine-piece band, all well dressed in pressed suits and ties.
The Dap Kings set it off with an instrumental introduction. Guitarist Binky Griptite introduced Starr Duncan and Saundra Williams, collectively The Dapettes. Then things really got hot as the star of the show, Ms. Sharon Jones, took the stage.
Despite the small turnout, Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings held back not an ounce of energy. Jones led us through a funky musical journey aboard her soul train, plucking strangers from the audience to join her on stage at whim. She was a soulful madwoman on the microphone, a female James Brown, and her band was tight as a knot.
Jones poured herself into her music, singing of forbidden love in “Mama Don’t Like My Man.” She warned the men of the dangers of “Window Shopping,” and even taught us to do the Funky Chicken. The only things the set lacked were instrumental solos. Still, the band did an impeccable job of supporting the vibrant ball of energy that is Sharon Jones.
By the time their set came to a close at around 10:30 p.m., folks in the audience were so deep into her grooves they couldn’t bear to see her go. The empty room reverberated with the whooping and hollering of a few hundred ragers not ready to call it a night.
“You make this half-empty room sound full,” said Griptite as he called The Dap Kings back to the stage for a few encore tunes with Jones.
By 11 p.m., Jones said her final goodbyes and the band wrapped it up for real.
It was a great set. So great it felt as though it ended too soon. So great I felt sorry for the multitudes of people who could have had a funky, soulful night, but decided they had better things to do. Hopefully this won’t deter Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings from returning to South Florida. There are still many that would love to get down with them again.
Oh well, at least we can still catch them next month at Wanee…