James Brown | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

James Brown


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


Last time the Godfather of Soul was in town, he displayed his professionalism and dedication by working 90 minutes nonstop for a sparse crowd scattered around Soldier Field. Brown paces himself these days; he dances in spurts, then stands back and lets his supporting cast--a surreal bevy of high-stepping showgirls and his usual tightly wound band--keep the energy rising. He emphasizes melody more than he did during his revolutionary late-60s-early-70s period, when he laid the foundation for hard funk, house, hip hop, and rap by transforming his entire band into a rhythm instrument. But his voice is undiminished and his obsessive fusion of exaltation, perfectionism, and egomania is as spellbinding as ever. The "Please, Please, Please" cape routine has gotten perfunctory, and he no longer contorts himself into paroxysms on "It's a Man's Man's Man's World," but he'll still throw himself to the stage floor to sing prostrate and then rise majestically, legs quaking and feet galvanized with rhythm, only to turn around and do it again and again. He's apparently unwilling to surrender until either he or the audience has been battered into submission. Tonight, 8:30 PM, Star Plaza Theatre, I-65 and U.S. 30, Merrillville, Indiana; 734-7266.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Add a comment