Since the early 1970s, Al Green has been sweeping women off their feet with his love ballads, and last November, he released his latest album, I Can’t Stop.
“Some people ask, ‘does the Reverend still got it?'” Green exclaimed before a near-capacity crowd at DAR Constitution Hall Friday night.
After the Reverend hit some incredible notes, the crowd chanted, “You got it! You got it!”
Green headlined a Valentine Celebration that also featured Phil Perry, whose 35 years in the entertainment industry were apparent throughout his very polished show. Perry put the crowd in an especially romantic mood after performing his song “Do Not Disturb” with his wife, Linda.
Grammy winner Stephanie Mills was next, performing classics like “Home” and “Never Knew Love Like This Before.” A spectacular singer with enough energy to headline the show herself, Mills received two standing ovations for her performance.
As the stage geared up for Green, one of the many keyboards was replaced with an organ. In addition to the backup gospel singers, a horn section got the already-warmed-up crowd moving.
Green walked on stage and took off his fur coat almost immediately to reveal a white suit and matching shoes. He seemed ecstatic to be performing again, smiling, clapping and talking to the crowd like only a Reverend can do.
While Perry may have brought the melody and Mills laid down some wonderful beats, Green brought the soul. He opened the set with one of his greatest hits, “Let’s Get Married,” and within seconds it was obvious that the 57-year-old could not only still sing, but he could dance, too.
Green’s personal story is as complex and moving as his music. Like many R&B singers, his career began signing in church, and he later started a quartet with his brothers called “The Greene Brothers.”
Green went solo in 1970, and history was made. Although practically a soul legend by the age of 27, personal problems in the mid-’70s turned Green away from secular music. He founded his own church and became a reverend in Memphis, where he still preaches to this day.
At his concert, the next two songs reflected these church influences and proved why Green was recently inducted into the Gospel Hall of Fame. “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright,” a song about the second coming of Christ, received numerous “Amens!” from the crowd. This was followed up by a spine-tingling rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
Although Green talked about God throughout his set, the rest of the songs were not as deeply rooted in religion. And with each one, it became apparent why he is in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.
One highlight of the night was Green’s version of the Bee Gees’ “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?” from the “Notting Hill” soundtrack, and Al Green’s own “Here I am.” This song first topped the charts in 1973, but our generation may be more familiar with the UB40 version. It was during this song that Green’s male backup dancers first came on stage in all their glory, and the band was also given an opportunity to show off its skills with some incredible solos.
Although there were many musical highlights from the evening, most memorable for me was being handed a rose by Green himself during “Let’s Stay Together.” It was almost Valentine’s Day, and after all, every girl loves flowers!