Leon Bridges took the stage Friday in Portland to sustained saxophone skronks and the quick swing of a hi-hat and snare drum, dancing exuberant circles around the stage while decked out in vintage clothing.

By modern standards, the 27-year-old’s outfit was at least a size too big for him, and it made him occasionally look like a teenager pretending to be a young James Brown in his bathroom mirror.

This image is not far from the truth of his career: Bridges’ 1960s-inspired R&B has earned him comparisons to the likes of Otis Redding and Sam Cooke, which are pretty big saddle shoes to fill. On a Maine evening when an unseasonably sweltering September day dissipated into a near-perfect concert-going night, Bridges did an admirable job of living up to those legends.

The comparisons to Cooke are justified. On his brilliant debut album, “Coming Home,” Bridges sings a rich, weathered midrange that has fallen out of favor in contemporary soul; you can practically hear the crackle of an old 45-rpm record in his voice.

On stage and without the aid of the vintage recording equipment that make “Coming Home” sound like a ghost from another era, his voice had a bracing immediacy that snapped his songs to the present. He handled the up-tempo songs deftly, as if gently steering a runaway locomotive. The slower numbers, such as the lovely “Brown Skin Girl,” the gospel-tinged “Shine” and the biographical “Lisa Sawyer,” better allowed the chestnut hues of his timbre to reveal themselves, and were the concert’s indisputable highlights.

The performance gained vigor as it proceeded. The members of his superb band locked in more, the energy built upon the previous songs, and Bridges’ voice strengthened as the show went on. Inexplicably, even his dance moves seemed to become tighter as the show went on.

The audience responded enthusiastically, getting swept along with the momentum (if only Maine audiences were as keen on more contemporary-sounding R&B acts).

Bridges performed a handful of slick, midtempo songs that are not on “Coming Home,” including the inspirational “Hold On” and the ode to his home state, “Texas Sun.” These were every bit as potent as the ones that gained him notice in 2015 – so much so that it’s surprising Columbia Records isn’t ushering him into a studio right now. He’s a superb songwriter, sticking to basic themes of love, family, home and God, but coloring the details with singular insights and keeping listeners on their toes through unexpected melodic twists and turns away from the classic-soul playbook.

Lest anyone think of him too much as a retro act or too chaste, he uncorked a version of Ginuwine’s 1996 classic “Pony,” letting the song’s subtle blues influence bubble to the surface and singing the playfully dirty lyrics with the joy that the song requires. Bridges’ career is skyrocketing right now, and his joy is contagious.

Robert Ker is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.