James Brown has still got it - at least most of it. Even as he enters his 70s, Brown still generates phenomenal excitement.
A full house of area fans, including many in Brown's age bracket, got reacquainted with the Godfather of Soul at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex's War Memorial Auditorium on Friday. The Diamond Life production brought back memories for the man and his fans.``North Carolina took care of me when I couldn't take care of myself,' Brown sentimentally told the crowd during one of a few breaks in the show's two high-energy hours.
Backed by a tight band that steadily cranked his trademark grooves, Brown showed that he still is ``the hardest working man in show business.' His voice was working, once he got it warmed up, as were his boogaloo, mashed potatoes and jerk.
At moments, it was just like back in the day. The nostalgia started at the beginning with the arrival on stage of announcer Danny Raye, whose voice also was intact and whose hair was even better lacquered than Brown's.
Three times during the night Brown dropped to his knees so Raye could ceremoniously drape him with one of three sequined capes: silver, green and red.
``I Got the Feelin'' and ``Papa Don't Take No Mess' featured original arrangements and were among many songs that featured hot saxophone and guitar solos and kicking rhythms from the band's two drummers.
The ballad ``It's A Man's World' was among the songs that highlighted the lush harmony of Brown's background singers, The Bittersweets. It also showcased his own voice, which was sounding great by then. The ballad ``Try Me,' performed earlier in the show, had some rough spots.
The concert itself also had a few rough spots. They included some disconcertingly accelerated tempos as on ``Sex Machine,' some disappointingly abbreviated performances as on ``The Payback' and some saccharine vocal arrangements as on a trombone-free ``Doing it to Death.'
At times the progression was as choppy as some of the moves of the dancer who also contributed some dispensable rap to the evening.
Greensboro Councilman Earl Jones presented Brown with the key to the city, in honor of his long career's worth of accomplishments. Styling in a white suit, the none-too-tall Jones towered over Brown, who wore a fringed and rhinestoned gold jacket over shiny black pants.
Brown, who took time to shake hands with people in the audience and let Raye and the Bittersweets do the same, also gave a nod to N.C. A&T, where he found his renowned former sideman Maceo Parker and his brother Melvin Parker.
Opening the show was a bizarre appearance by Fred ``Re-Run' Berry of the old TV sitcom ``What's Happening.' The dancer-turned-actor was billed as a comedian, but he did more preaching than telling jokes, leaving the crowd more puzzled than warmed up.\