Monday night, the Wexner Center brought Numero’s Eccentric Soul Revue to the recently re-opened Lincoln Theatre in the Cap City’s old school King-Lincoln district. Columbus and the Numero Group have a very special relationship, not the least of which being the Group’s first release was a compilation of Bill Moss’ Capsoul label releases. It was a festive air from the word go, as JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound kicked things off. Brooks, probably the youngest guy on the bill by 25 years, did more than his fair share of shakin’ and shoutin’, working hard to wake-up the crowd and prepare the stage for the more seasoned performers.
First on the bill was Renaldo Domino, who pleased the older folks and confused the younger ones by covering “Tainted Love” (a worldwide hit for Soft Cell, but originally recorded by Gloria Jones in 1964). Renaldo’s smooth vocals, unpretentious performance, and loose-limbed dancing made for a promising beginning.
After another interlude from Brooks and company, hometown heroes the Four Mints (whose debut was reissued by Numero) danced on, dressed head to toe in red and black, complete with vests and visors. This is when the show really started to take off. The thrill these guys (and one gal) took in being onstage, singing their biggest hits (like “Row My Boat”) and getting cheers from the Columbus crowd, was palpable. That sensation was present throughout the night, as the crowd came to realize that they had stumbled on something authentic and meaningful. If there’s an antidote to the stultified, cynical, media-saturated rock music scenes of which we sometimes get so sick and tired, this is it. It wasn’t just another night on the road for these artists; every song was a validation and a celebration for audience and performers alike.
The Notations, who were included on Numero’s Twinight label compilation, took that concept of celebration and ran with it. Along with consummate style, they brought class and heart. Co-founder and leader Clifford Curry regaled us with stories about Curtis Mayfield and gave extended intros to the whole group. With their matching white suits, their choreographed moves and the most rousing harmonies heard all night, the Notations made you wonder how such a group would need something like the Numero Group to help revive their careers.
Syl Johnson, who also recorded for Twinight, closed out the evening with something of an “anything you can do I can do better” attitude, performing like a man possessed. He thrust his hips 21 times in a row, dropped to his knees for a couple of harmonica solos, called out the Geto Boys and Wu-Tang for sampling his hit “Different Strokes,” scolded the mostly white band during “Is It Because I’m Black,” and got more than a little incoherent during his post-song patter. Nonetheless, the 73-year-old Johnson was the most fiery guy on the bill, and by the end of his set, the crowd was on its feet, finally clapping and dancing the way they should’ve been all night. Riding the momentum, everyone on the bill came back out for “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” a grand encore, a huge and glorious ending to a once-in-a-lifetime evening.