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Monday, September 17, 2007

Live Review: Al Green

Posted By on Mon, Sep 17, 2007 at 1:18 PM

Al Green

Sept. 13, 2007

Memorial Hall - UNC-Chapel Hill

There's a lot of different people living in Al Green's body. He ain't shy about letting any or all of 'em out to run around. Thursday night at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Memorial Hall, backed by a big honkin' orchestra, a couple of backup singers including his daughter Ursulla, and flanked by a couple of hip-hop dancers, Rev. Green seemed to forsake his ministerial role for the evening, transformed instead into a hip-shakin' devil.

Seconds after hitting the stage, he let go with a scream that sent him to his knees and brought the sold-out audience to their feet. "Al, you scared the hell out of me," he told himself before launching into a raucous version of "Let's Get Married."

Green stunned the crowd with his "Everything’s Gonna Be Alright" introduction. "I'm coming over to get that stuff," the singer said he told a lady friend recently. The predominantly female audience stayed silent, so Green repeated it, getting some nervous titters from the crowd. "Hey," Green said, "I'm a preacher, but I'm still a man!"

Green then let his preacher personality out for some God funk on "He's Coming Back," going out in the crowd to shake hands. "I feel at home here, nothing's gonna happen to me," Green said from the aisle seconds before a large woman grabbed him in a bear hug and wouldn’t let go "Halp!," Green screamed, finally prying himself free and running back to the safety of the stage.

"They call it baby-making music," Green says of his signature sound. "Start a fire, open a bottle of wine, put on some Al Green and then ... I forgot — I am a preacher," Greens confessed. It was a bizarre intro to "Amazing Grace," and got even stranger when daughter Ursulla chimed in for some sultry background. He followed with a roaring, rock star version of "Nearer My God to Thee," standing 10 feet back from the microphone.

'74's "Here I Am Come And Take Me" displayed Green's multiple personality disorder in full bloom with the soul man of God screaming like a backwater evangelist at a revival meeting on a secular song about sex. Professor Green popped out next, teaching a soul history lesson, stringing together a medley of the 4 Tops' "Sugar Pie Honey Bunch," Sam Cooke's "Bring It On Home," and Otis Redding's "I’ve Been Loving You Too Long," climbing higher than Otis.

Green hit the high, hard ones on "I’m So Tired of Being Alone." "I wanted to see if the boy's still got it," Green said after holding a top of the line scream for an impossible length of time.

He got in a goodly portion of his big hits, doing full versions, sounding as good as he did thirty years ago. "I’m a bad mother scratcher," he proclaimed after a gorgeous version of "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart."

By the time he ended the service with "Love and Happiness," he had a houseful of souls filled up with the essence of soulman Al, fulfilled with the saving grace of Reverend Green.

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