The sexiest soul smoothie who ever took it to the bridge, Al Green cut his teeth singing gospel music and continued to sing it throughout his years as a pop sensation. So, his official conversion to nonsecular music six years ago didn't mark that big a change in his style.
Still, the gospel tag is apparently off-putting to the mainstream audience, as his Saturday show at the Wiltern drew less than a capacity crowd. The fans who loved his '70s hits but can't find the time for him now fail to understand that lyrics are a secondary issue with Green; whether the subject is his baby or The Father, his central theme is and always has been the body/soul duality. Singing with the unbridled joy of a man possessed, Green put that timeless conflict in a funky Memphis groove on Saturday and invested every note with a raw sensuality that was sinfully wonderful.
Opening the show was gospel singer Tramaine, whose recent hit "Fall Down (Spirit of Love)" topped the disco charts. Tramaine claims she's on a crusade to "get gospel music mainstreamed," and though she has the pipes for the job, she's got a lot to learn about how to pace a show.