James Brown Genessee Theatre Waukegan IL 9.16.06

Wow, I can't say that The Godfather of Soul was totally coherent with his 90 minutes onstage at the Genessee, but when he shakes his thang, it is obvious that he still has something. I am really glad that I finally got a chance to see him, especially in the newly restored Gennessee Theatre. It is a classic joint that has both balconies and box seats. It is a real theatre, not your typical barn that puts on shows.

His best quote (that I could make out from his garbled, jive ramblings) was a command to the house lighting person. "Make the light blue, This is JAMES BROWN, not Jimi Hendrix!" I found that pretty entertaining and quite indicative of his commanding persona, according to stories that I have heard about working for him. (RIP Spider, may there be a permanent percussion jam out there for you.) Of course, somehow, some way, JB got his blue light with the disco ball turned on.

He started the set out with "Living in America" and ended with "Sex Machine." The band was alive, sounded pretty good, but it was interesting to note that everyone was at least 3o years younger than James excepting the familiar sounding MC.

"Machine" was a good 15 minute or so jam that abrupted ended with the house lights coming on. There was no attempt at an encore.

In the middle of the set, he did an interesting move with a large back up singer chick who came to spotlight to belt out 'Retha's "Respect." JB cut her off at the end and went into "It's a Man's World." All of the other hits were at least referenced with at least a few bars. One of the other more memorable tunes was the version of "Hot Pants" which was suitably hot.

There was quite a bit of men's room bitching about the length of the set. JB could have easily stretched it out by taking a breather and letting the band play, but he opted to stay onstage for the entire set, taking a breather by sitting at a small keyboard and banging out some chords.

There was a preponderance of hat-wearing pimp alikes at the concert. My favorite was the dude in his late '50s whom was pretty obviously packing under his white linen suit. He had a contrasting red shirt, red boots, red tie and pimp hat. He also opted for the Budweiser in the red aluminum bottle so he had everthing matching. He was smoking at the bar (this is now a non smoking building.) He was asked by the bartender to put out his smoke, to which he laughed and dimissively said that he knew that and that he was in a bar...

I then saw him drop a pill of some sort into someone else's beer glass. It was really hard to believe. He then got into a yelling match with some security guy, where he starting pointing and getting very mad. I thought the pistol was going to be drawn... Instead, he just put his butt into the beer glass, where he had put the pill mere moments before.

Taking the train was an adventure as was the local tavern, where they were so excited to see some fresh blood that they comped me a Modelo or two. The rap was deafening but was also inexplicably followed by Billy Joel's "Pressure." Weird could not even begin to explain the scene there with wheel chair bound alcoholics and over weight prostitutes.

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