Etta James At Last

May 14, 2009


One of the perks I constantly talk about when discussing this great city of New York is the concerts. Last night I was able to take in a performance at B.B. Kings on 42nd by the one and only Ms. Etta James. Now I’m not that familiar with Ms. James’ work outside of At Last and I know of that song because of the movie Cadillac Records and the Beyonce’ controversy (we’ll get to that). The show was billed to start at 8pm with Etta James being backed by The Roots Band. I was hyped to see Questlove and the crew throw down with this Blues great. What I saw instead however I was not prepared for.

The crowd was mostly in their 50’s and up. It was old school Tuesdays in B.B. Kings that night. The opening act was a blues band which had on auto mechanic outfits. They were a good opening act. After a brief intermission the MC of the evening came to the stage to announce the main act.

“The Roots Band” was a bunch of older cats I’d never seen before. They were not the hip hop band from Philly I love so much. However that being said they were good. After warming up the crowd Ms James joined them on stage. This is a woman who has been performing for a long time. She told us she’s 71 and I must say, there’s plenty of life in that woman. She has a blues soul and it shows. The crowd went crazy when she did the Janice Joplin hit “Piece of my heart”.

Ms. James has a raunchy edge to her performance. On many occasion I saw her rub on her breastesess. This is someone’s grandmother who was gyrating on the stage to some old blues records. I cringed a few times but my co-pilot Shino thought it was sexy (or at least she joked it was). I felt more at ease when she would go into some very melodic scat sessions. Ms. James finished off the set with her hit “At Last” starting off with a rant aimed at a certain child of destiny. “This is MY SONG! I’ve sang this song for a LONG time!”. The song did not disappoint and the crowd let Ms. James know it.

After such a long career Etta James still knows how to entertain. Well done.

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