Friday, July 1, 2016

Patti LaBelle Concert Review

Don't Get It Twisted

The Music Center at Strathmore has played host to some incredible acts of late (Paul Anka, Diana Ross, Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons) but the "Godmother of Soul," Patti LaBelle? Time to find my SmarTrip card: Someone (yours truly) was headed to Grosvenor–Strathmore.

Concert Review

I'll be the first to admit, I wasn't always a fan. I fell in heavy like with LaBelle back in the 80's, like everyone else in my (under-18) age bracket. That's when the two-time Grammy award winner unleashed "New Attitude" and "Stir It Up," and a solo star was born. A slew of hits followed; but I never found the time to see her perform live... until last night.

She took the stage, guns blazing (and with a New Attitude.) It was a bold move (opening with her second biggest solo hit) but sadly got lost in the shuffle of an overzealous band, that somehow managed to drown out the main attraction. How do you drown out Patti LaBelle?

Lucky for us, it was only temporary. LaBelle announced, "I'm happy to be back. I'm taking my time tonight," before grabbing control of the 90-minute set, and never letting go. Stirring renditions of "If You Asked Me To," "Somebody Loves You Baby (You Know Who It Is") and The Right Kinda Lover followed, and the audience was hooked. From there, it was time for a familiar cover, "Do you like Michael McDonald?" she asked, before taking on her friend's top-10 smash I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near.) No offense to Mr. McDonald, but Patti's version was a smidge better.

More than halfway through, Ms. LaBelle wowed the crowd with another 80's classic, "Love, Need and Want You," stopping to remind her fans, "Don't get it twisted. I did this first too." It was one of several light-hearted moments, none better than her literal kicking off her shoes after belting out "If You Don't Know Me by Now." That move brought the house down, as did her microphone stand toss after a Harold Arlen cover of "Over the Rainbow." In between, her penultimate "Lady Marmalade" scored the biggest standing ovation of the night; although you can credit four random male audience members with an assist, after each performed their own song and dance numbers. Funny stuff.

The show was relatively short (the aforementioned hour and a half) but packed with 14 songs and a moving memorial tribute to musical (and other) talents such as Muhammad Ali, Michael Jackson and Prince. My only complaint? No Stir It Up. Boo-hiss! Otherwise, you couldn't ask for more. On second thought, I suppose you could: She returns for a second show, tonight at 8. Click here to purchase tickets ($65-$150.) Trust me, you'll be glad thrilled you did.