Reviewed July 9, 1994.
Papa’s brand new bag has been revitalized. James Brown has revamped his show — and band — for the first time since his release from prison in 1991, and he delivers a fever-pitched two-hour revue. He has retained the screams, whispers and acrobatics that highlighted his shows this decade, but the new band is playing it tighter and funkier, the Vegas touches are flashy without being flamboyant, and the song selection is brilliant.
After a standard 15-minute instrumental warm-up that introduced the musicians and back-up singers, Brown emerged in his trademark black sequined suit for a fervent rendition of “Cold Sweat.” He spent most of the night in his hits catalog –“It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World,””I Got You (I Feel Good),””Sex Machine,””Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,””Give It Up and Turn It Loose,””Living in America”– losing steam only when he filled the middle third of the show with ballads.
Brown still makes “Man’s World” a theatrical show-stopper, but “Funky Good Time,” in which all the choreography and stops and starts of the performers reach critical mass, shows how spirited and revved-up Brown can get.
Saturday’s performance was a far cry from Brown’s poorly received concert at January’s NATPE conference in Miami.
Brown is refreshed and focused. He spreads the range of the spotlight for dancing interludes, jazz instrumentals and solos for his backup singers without losing sight that it’s a James, James, James world.