Reverend Al brings his soul-music gospel to Portsmouth

Al Green in Memphis earlier this year.

Al Green got a lot done in a little more than an hour Tuesday night. The legendary soul singer, backed by a crackling band, performed some of his greatest hits at the Music Hall in Portsmouth, N.H.

Sixty-six years old and clearly not in the same shape he was back when he was posing shirtless for album covers, the Reverend had to pace himself. But his voice was strong, even when he soared into the upper register — a danger zone for many older singers. And throughout the concert he handed out roses to the ladies, a tradition that I’m pretty sure has been part of his act since the 1970s.

Green sang old hits such as “Take Me to the River,” “Tired of Being Alone” and — one of my personal favorites — “Love and Happiness.” He delivered a stirring rendition of “Amazing Grace,” and closed with “Let’s Stay Together,” perhaps his biggest hit. There was no encore, despite several minutes of clapping and stomping.

Mrs. Media Nation and I came away feeling honored to have had a chance to see one of the greats of 1960s and ’70s music — a performer of the stature of Otis Redding or James Brown. We’re lucky to still have Al Green with us.

No review from the Portsmouth Herald yet, but the paper interviewed Green last week. The Washington Post reviewed one of his shows a few days ago, and it sounds like basically the same concert.

Boston’s Jesse Dee opened. I have to confess I hadn’t heard of him, but he and his five-piece band delivered a soulful set of their own.

Photo (cc) by Mark Runyon/ConcertTour.org and republished under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

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