Combo took to the Apollo stage without the sense of awe that often accompanies such an appearance.
Bands that knowingly nod to the past can often come across as precious, acting as much like librarians as musicians — a trait that never creeps into the mix for long-running Brooklyn soul-funk revivalists Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. At this homecoming stint cum record release celebration, the combo took to the Apollo stage without the sense of awe that often accompanies such an appearance; instead, they played and acted as if they belonged there.
The members of the Dap-Kings speak the language of ’60s and ’70s soul learnedly, not phonetically, an ideal backdrop for Jones, a powerhouse of a singer who spent years as a Gotham corrections officer. She earned respect among hardcore soul and funk aficionados long before a recent mainstream reveal that resulted in her Daptone disc “I Learned the Hard Way” debuting at No. 15 on the album chart last month — no mean feat for a true indie that operates sans corporate distribution.
Much of the lengthy set was culled from that new disc. Jones plucked all the right wronged-woman heartstrings on tunes such as “How Long Do I Have to Wait for You,” a deceptively smooth wail reminiscent of the Isley Bros.’ “I Got Work to Do,” and the new disc’s spare, sing-along-ready title track.
Appropriately, given her chosen touchstones, Jones also dipped into the font of social consciousness at regular intervals, offering reflections on economic woes — old sentiments brought up to date by references to bank bailouts and Wall Street ravenousness — and turning in a rich, brassy take on “This Land Is Your Land” (originally released on the 2005 outing “Naturally”).
Perf hit all the tried and true soul revue notes — a cameo by a string session here, a nod to the sassy backing singers there — but the unifying ingredient, the passion of the core Dap-Kings, was unmistakable. As with an expertly crafted gumbo, none of the individual elements pushed to the fore, but each one — guitar, brass, percussion and, of course, voice — lent an irreplaceable tone.
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings will play at L.A.’s Wiltern Theater on June 26.