It took about 15 minutes Friday night at Buster's for Sharon Jones to climb aboard the Soul Train.
During an intensely physical version of When I Come Home, the Brooklyn soul music queen turned her 95-minute concert, as well as the high powered R&B charge of her eight-member band, the Dap Kings, (ably aided by a pair of tambourine-shaking back-up singers dubbed the Dapettes) into a sort of groove locomotive.
With the Dap Kings' sleek three-man horn team, Jones demonstrated all the vintage moves that accompanied the soul sounds she grew up with.
"Next stop, The Boogaloo," Jones shouted. Then came the Pony. Then the Funky Chicken, Mashed Potato, Swim and so forth. Cap it all with a vocal command that was every bit as arresting as the show's very visible energy and a call-and-response round with the crowd that ensured the latter's involvement with the fun, and you had a program full of vintage soul strength but served with an undeniable immediacy.
Such was the design of this thoroughly engaging performance. Jones would interact with the crowd (like pulling an eager male fan onto the stage for Give It Back), unleash the kind of volcanic physicality that sparked the When I Come Home dance party and, finally, cool the proceedings with sleek orchestral soul serenades like I Learned the Hard Way (colored by sax, flute and regal Dapettes harmonies).
The bright, brassy sound never retreated. Even when Jones was left onstage with only guitarist/emcee Binky Griptite and the Dapettes for the doo-woppish Mama Don't Like My Man, the groove was as full as when Jones packed the full Dap King punch for Money, a tune that paralleled meager cash flow to a lover's rejection ("When you're needed, you're nowhere around").
Sure, the whole design of such a presentation was rooted in long ago soul revues. But the fabulous Ms. Jones — introduced no less last night as "the most brilliant star in the Daptone soul universe" — revealed few thoughts of yesterday in her music. The might and urgency she brought to the concert ignited out of an R&B flame that was very much of the moment. And Friday night, those moments and flames burned with equal brilliance.