Thursday, July 12, 2012

Betty Wright cleans up at the Jazz Cafe

Betty Wright is one hell of a woman and a dynamic soul performer, as she showed at the Jazz Cafe last night. The Miami based singer had her first major hit Clean Up Woman over 40 years ago but she is still creating high class original music today: her recent album Betty Wright: The Movie, recorded with The Roots and featuring input from Joss Stone, Snoop Dogg and Lenny Williams among others, has picked up positive reviews.
Wearing a big Afro, short spangly dress and high heeled suede thigh boots, Betty stormed her way through a near two hour high energy set of new and old material. She has personality in spades and a great sense of humour. "Do I look like a male basher?" she asked. Well, yes, maybe!
Kicking off with her 1988 hit After The Pain she got the females in the audience going by urging them to join her in repeating "That's the way I like it."  She moved onto In The Middle Of The Game (Don't Change The Play), a track from The Movie album, before rocking into her 1974 UK hit Shoorah Shoorah, written by Allen Toussaint. After an exquisite version of Tonight Is The Night (allegedly about her first sexual experience) she told the story of how she had fought - and won - a legal battle when she found out it had been sampled in I Wanna Sex You Up by Color Me Bad and used in the movie New Jack City.
Betty slowed things down next with another track from her recent album -  Go - an emotional and intense song about domestic abuse. She seemed almost in tears as she acted out the fear and tension of being beaten by an abusive partner. Then it was back to the old days with a fantastic version of Clean Up Woman, with some James Brown style Licking Stick/Soul Power additions. Her last two numbers were her 80s hits Keep Love New and No Pain No Gain - both of them performed with great power and not a little humour. Her encore - a rather cacophonous tribute to Michael Jackson - was something of an anti climax, but overall this was a quite brilliant show, and definitely my gig of the year so far. Betty's backing band were excellent, as were her female vocal backing threesome, comprising her daughters.


At 2:49 pm , Blogger Dave C said...

Great night. I enjoyed Betty’s reggae singing on No Pain, (No Gain) where she segued into Waiting In Vain. What was the missing songtitle? The nearest I have come up with is Do You Remember What Jesus Said, but I am probably wrong. There were only two numbers from her latest album - I would have preferred Whisper In The Wind and So Long, So Wrong.

At 7:01 pm , Blogger Nick said...

The missing song title: I thought the ladies were singing 'Incense' but then I thought it was 'Age of innocence'. I can't find anything that fits either of these though so any suggestions would be very welcome.


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