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Concert Reviews:
Grace Jones brings some "Nightclubbing" to Masonic Temple

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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DETROIT -- There was not a large crowd at the Masonic Temple Theatre for Grace Jones' concert Monday night, July 1 -- maybe about half capacity at best.

But the Jamaican-born pop culture icon could not have cared less.

"I'm still doing this show just as if there's 50,000 people in a stadium," she declared shortly after riding through the crowd, singing "Amazing Grace," on the shoulders of a front-row fan.

Jones certainly brought it on Monday, her first Detroit appearance in many years. Stretching 13 songs over more than two R-rated, gleefully profane hours, the 71-year-old the actress, supermodel and, oh yeah, singer -- fresh off a WorldPride performance in New York City -- was as if not more passionate and provocative on stage than artists a fraction of her age. A broken toe, which she mentioned several times, did not prevent her from pulling on balance-challenging footwear or prowling the stage throughout the night, or from quick-changing into one opulent outfit after another.

And Jones' libidinous appetite was strong as ever, whether she was strapping on a faux male penis during "My Jamaican Guy," miming sex with a body-painted dancer during her hyper-speed version of Roxy Music's "Love is the Drug" or performing topless during a lengthy romp through "Slave to the Rhythm."

Offensive? Only to the faintest of sensibilities. Good fun -- and arty, sometimes to a fault? You betcha.

A big part of the appeal in seeing Jones live, of course, is what happens between the songs -- from her explicit, seemingly off-the-cuff commentary to moments of devil-may-care disorganization, when Jones' dresser had to come out and make a quick costume fix or, in the case of "Hurricane," dress her entirely as her eight-piece band vamped into the song. More than 40 years after she began doing music, Jones still knows how to keep everyone on their toes, in the crowd and on the stage.

The music was no mere afterthought, mind you. Though some of the songs, particularly towards the end of the concert, were extended well beyond what was necessary, there was no denying the icy, avant pop power in Jones' version of Iggy Pop's "Nightclubbing," which opened the night, or in her uptempo rendition of Edith Piaf's signature "La vie en Rose." The high points, meanwhile, came when Jones took it to the dance floor on The Normal's "Warm Leatherette," the reggae-spiced "My Jamaican Guy," "Pull Up the Bumper" and a thumping, titanic take on "Williams' Blood" -- the one song that could have gone on all night without wearing out its welcome.

"I knew tonight would be special with you," Jones told the Masonic crowd at one point. Chiding those who warned her that "Detroit is not such a happening place," Jones said, "That's why I need to come!" And here's hoping it doesn't take her very long to come again.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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