I am a fan of James Brown - his concert in the Streetsville Arena near Toronto on the night of the great blackout was a highlight on my youth
so I found this film informative and delightful. It's a great way for
people who never his saw his show as it was back in those days to get an idea of what it might have been like. His "big show" approach, with smooth, scripted emceeing, warmup acts, comedy, everything done with near military precision, paved the way for the big concerts of today. In fact, a lot of shows today look awfully loosey-goosey compared to his. But the film focuses on the social significance of that show in Boston, which kept potential rioters off the streets in order to watch a special broadcast of the James Brown show live on television.
It's said he was working for the higher good. Well, JB often did, but the film makes clear on this night that he was ready to turn his back; he wasn't going to do his part to help calm the city unless he was paid his full going rate. And the shame of the city of Boston is that, according to a member of the JB team, they only paid part of the fee. They should have paid it ten time over, considering the destruction he almost certainly saved the city from.
Not every moment of the film is riveting, but it's well worth watching, leaving you with some interesting thoughts about the importance of music.
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