Published Jul 02, 2015Naomi Shelton and her Gospel Queens were the first half of a double dip of Daptone Records artists at Metropolis, opening for the ferociously funky Charles Bradley. Opening for such a party man is all well and good, but Ms. Shelton is not about that. She has a message to deliver and will do so at her own pace.
Still requiring aid to the stage, as she has since having her knee replaced last year, Shelton's countenance was undiminished. With a fast-talking but gracious stage manner, she stated from the outset that she had an hour and 15 minutes to do her thing and she was going to do them her way.
Kicking off with "Lift My Burdens," she and the Gospel Queens did as expected, imploring the Lord to make a way. Although this was a soul-oriented night at Metropolis, many Shelton's initial songs might have been better suited for a roots/Americana-oriented show. The church tent revival drum patterns that most Canadians are only acquainted with through movies failed to connect through the first third of the show. While these rhythms may be the roots of funk, they aren't funky in themselves, and aside from generally warm applause, I'm guessing the likely irreligious-to-Catholic audience was waiting for the recognizable dance semiotics of Charles Bradley.
However, "undaunted" is a good word for Naomi Shelton, and she just kept spreading the good word. The set took a turn into deep soul with cuts like "I'll Take The Long Road," cellphone use decreased and the Gospel Queens calls were responded to more frequently by the audience. When "It's A Cold Cold World" started to light the fire that the packed house was expecting, Shelton's James Brown-worthy screams sealed the bond with her audience, which gave her a rousing farewell as she exited the stage with care, but in triumph.