Dr. John with the Blind Boys of Alabama

Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center, Oct. 16

The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and five-time Grammy winner sauntered onstage with a hip wiggle, a feathered cane and a burgundy suit. He sang with a sexy, seen-it-all blues voice that seemed untethered by the constraints of his 71-year-old body. Dr. John’s songs had gritty Louisiana hooks, beckoning you to be complicit in the sinful happiness of a steamy New Orleans night. Organ riffs pulled on a string in your heart that unraveled all constraints. And when the venue became too polite for the raw, visceral power of the music, the funk-jazz shaman transformed Reynolds Hall into a red-light district. Adding to the feel, a lady trombonist in a flouncy dress warbled with a blood-quickening mute. Thirty minutes in, the Blind Boys of Alabama took the stage. The quartet’s heavenly harmonizing on gospel songs, such as “People Get Ready,” subdued even the devil himself, Dr. John, who played backup piano. After Dr. John’s sinful seduction, the Blind Boys proved that salvation can also be fun with “Spirit in the Sky” and “Free at Last.”

This rousing concert gave you the paradoxical joys of both sin and redemption. But when the Blind Boys played “Amazing Grace” to the tune of “House of the Rising Sun,” you realized that the dichotomy isn’t one at all—like removing a prism from a sunny window so that a disjointed rainbow becomes pure, white light. The Blind Boys left the stage after two of their members walked the aisles, shaking hands with the eager audience. At the end of the night, they returned for a bluesy dirge of “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Then the two groups—angels and devil—united for a rollicking finale of the spiritual “Glory Glory (Lay My Burden Down).” On this spectacular night, Dr. John should’ve changed his hit “Right Place, Wrong Time” to “Right Place, Right Time.” ★★★★★



Optimization WordPress Plugins & Solutions by W3 EDGE