DALLAS -- Call it soul served two ways.
Sharon Jones and Grace Potter, two women separated by age as well as approach, set the Palladium Showroom ablaze Thursday night.
While Jones and her ace backing band, the Dap-Kings, attack soul and R&B head-on, delivering a hip-swiveling, pulse-quickening, grin-inducing good time, Potter, backed by the equally adept Nocturnals, treats soul music as one of many ingredients incorporated into a bewitching brew.
For almost two hours, Jones, with the eight-piece Dap-Kings providing one irresistible groove after another, shimmied her way back and forth across the stage, delighting those crowded close. Throughout the night, she frequently pulled one or more fans onstage for close encounters; the reactions ranged from delirious surprise to over-eager bursts of, let's be charitable, awkward dancing.
No matter: Jones was clearly having a ball, feeding off the audience's energy and that of her band. Clad in a spangled, slightly green dress that, as it twitched and shook about, served as a visual reminder of Jones's seemingly boundless enthusiasm, the 54-year-old dynamo served up selections from her extensive catalog, including several from the just-released I Learned the Hard Way.
In an era where waitresses can become stars overnight, thanks to Auto-Tune and American Idol, it's refreshing to watch a performer of Sharon Jones's caliber work the stage with nothing more than her muscular, pleading, commanding voice and a showman's innate flair. (For one number, Money, a dollar bill materialized out of nowhere and was soon affixed to Jones's perspiring forehead.) There's a clarity of purpose and depth of skill those crowding the Top 40 could hardly hope to match, let alone attain.
For as authentic as the evening's set list felt (not to mention the Dap-Kings' meticulous sharkskin suits), it also felt like genuine fun, almost as though the crowd was gathered in a really spacious basement somewhere, watching a top-notch R&B act earn every giddy shout, clap and grin it received.
But soul has many shades: Grace Potter & the Nocturnals are likewise steeped in a throwback vibe, but it's more Big Brother & the Holding Company than Sam Cooke. The Boston-bred Potter, a vibrant blond who oozes sexuality whenever she gets near a microphone, and the Nocturnals pounded their way through a scorching, generous opening set. Alternating between electric guitar and organ, Potter twitched and howled like a woman possessed. That much, at least, the ladies of this night had in common.
Bonus: Here are a couple quick clips I shot last night.