Aretha Performs Historic Concert
at Jones Beach
Aretha Franklin is most definitely alive. Last night, the Goddess of Soul (she has ascended way beyond queen, and even past empress) gave a life-affirming, body-stirring, spirit-moving, rave-up performance at Jones Beach, on Long Island, in New York.
Aretha has had her troubles over the years, and we all feared for her life when she disappeared in 2010 for some mysterious medical procedure. But reports of her demise are greatly exaggerated. She was looking big in her mu-mu and she sported one high heel and one “blue boot.” But she told us she was there to have a good time and that she did with glowing vibrancy for close to two hours.
Any Aretha fan goes to her concerts with some trepidation about the more than 50% likelihood that she will just “phone it in.” But last night it was as if Aretha had something to prove and she proved it.
There were some execs from her favorite record label, Ahmet Ertegun’s Atlantic Records, at the gig. Maybe she wanted to show them that this 69-year-old was as good as she was when she first cut “Natural Woman,” and “Chain of Fools.” She drove the crowd insane with her performance of those timeless classics last night.
Aretha went for every note and got there. She put all of her heart and soul into her singing and she was nothing short of astonishing, a complete blessed freak of nature.
It was clear that she was doing this for the pure joy of singing when she performed “Moody’s Mood for Love,” where she got to show off her jazz scatting chops.
Aretha took to the piano to perform Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Waters.” Her call and response riffing led her to abandon her set-list, get up from the piano and take it to the podium with Jeannie Tenney’s “One Night With the King.” This was her opportunity to add full out gospel to her night that included R and B, funk, disco, and jazz.
Standing in her white and gold floor length dress with one arm behind her back, her eyes closed and looking at the lord, she went into an inspired improvisation that went on for endless minutes and left me feeling I was in the temple of Isis in the presence of the Oracle. I was transported, giggling, crying, and on the verge of speaking in tongues.
After the serious spirituality, she and her huge, excellent band, directed by the adroit Mr. Thomas (I didn’t get his first name, someone please let me know!) brought it home to the funk with “Freeway of Love (Pink Cadillac)” and “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”
Everyone in the audience was moving, showing respect for the goddess. It looked like she didn’t want to leave the stage, returning to wave and blow kisses to the crowd. But we knew the show was over when her man took her handbag out from under the piano, where it remained throughout the show. Whatever she keeps in that bag, she wants it always close at hand. If that’s what makes her sound that way, I don’t blame her.
I feel sad for all that missed this historic night. But you have another chance to see her. She’ll be playing Coney Island on August 4th. Get on that D train, and go to the temple. You will find yourself in the presence of the divine.
Dr. Glenn Berger is a psychotherapist, relationship counselor, business and artist’s coach, and young person’s mentor. He sees patients in New York City, in Mt. Kisco, NY, and around the world by Skype.[/box]
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