I had the great pleasure of watching half a James Brown set at the V98 festival at Leeds in August 1998. My original online journal entry for that day is here.
We had started the evening, like most people at the festival, watching headliners The Verve on the main stage - they were riding high in popularity at that time following the release the previous year of their Urban Hymns LP. I had always been a bit gutted that due to an injury they had pulled out of supporting Oasis at Sheffield Arena in April 1995, but to be fair Pulp were a more than adequate replacement, and that turned out to be the first time I heard Common People.
Anyway, back to 1998, and despite the great songs, The Verve had no stage presence whatsoever. As I wrote at the time:
Emperor's new clothes or what?! I may as well have sat at home listening to some CDs and turning my bedroom lights on an off.
So, we skulked off to the dance tent to catch the last half of the James Brown set, and I will always be glad that we did. What a showman! Even at 65 he was bouncing around the stage like a maniac, whipping the audience (of mainly teen and twenty-something indie kids) into a frenzy with his shouted and impassioned vocals. The contrast with a statuesque Richard Ashcroft could not have been more stark.