Review: Charles Bradley, Barrio, Adelaide

Image courtesy of Charles Bradley

Charles Bradley with Clairy Browne and the Bangin’ Rackettes
9th March, Barrio (Adelaide Festival),

There’s not much that could make South Australian audiences miss the opening Friday night of the annual Womadelaide festival in the Botanic Park, but going by the sell-out crowd at Adelaide’s newest and quirkiest hot-spot BarrioCharles Bradley is a worthy exception.

Barrio is a late-night, shanty-town maze of restaurants, bars, markets and stages that popped up on the Adelaide Festival Centre Plaza a week or so ago as part of Adelaide Festival. The destination has proved a hit with Adelaide’s mad-March merrymakers, with lines often backed up to North Terrace with eager patrons ready to make an offering to the Barrio ‘shrine’ upon entering (it’s actually a thing). The bizarre space is unlike anything and creates a wild vibe for a performance.

Kicking off the night’s proceedings with otherwordly sass was Melbourne’s Clairy Browne & the Bangin’ Rackettes. The nine piece diva-soul ensemble made a powerful impression with well crafted and catchy original tunes that pay nostalgic homage to the gospels of yesteryear. Whilst Browne’s enormous voice, charisma and presence stole the show, her band do a sterling job and provided some pretty special moments themselves. Her tune “Love Letter” has been recieving some spins on Triple J, and  the outfit were certainly deserved recipients of the honour of warming the stage for the main event- (as he was introduced enthusiastically on the night) “the one and only, the black swan, the screaming eagle of soul, the original victim of love; Charles Bradley“.

For those who don’t know of Charles Bradley it’s best to get this across early; he is a phenomenon. Releasing his debut album No Time for Dreaming in 2011 at the tender age of 63, Bradley took the world by storm with a voice and a collection of songs that are unparalleled in the current era of music. Sure, Bradley draws influence from the likes of James Brown and Otis Redding and obvious comparisons can be made, but Bradley produces a sound and a performance that’s unique and touching.

Bradley almost exclusively explores 2 themes in his music- 1) that the world is full of trouble, pain, heartache and sorrow, and 2) that love and belief is the remedy to it all- and boy does he believe what he preaches. I’ve listened to Bradely’s debut a lot and songs like “The World is Going Up in Flames”, “Golden Rule” and “Trouble in the Land” were some of my favourite tracks to come out of last year, but seeing them performed live and in the flesh with all of Bradley’s raw emotion unashamedly on display added yet another dimension. Check out some of his handywork below.


  1. March 14, 2012 at 07:22

    Here is a great live Charles Bradley video from Montreal by Guerrilla Remote.

  2. April 13, 2012 at 16:24

    […] at Timber and Steel, 2012 had a lot to offer. The Friday opening night unfortunately clashed with Charles Bradley’s one and only performance at Barrio, so my Womadelaide did not begin until the Saturday afternoon. Penguin Cafe were the first act I […]

  3. March 25, 2013 at 18:22

    […] Browne & The Bangin’ Rackettes, who I’d seen for the first time nearly exactly a year ago supporting Charles Bradley at Adelaide Festival’s Barrio club in 2012. The energetic horn section and spritely back-up singers gave a fantastic excitement to the show […]

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