Bettye LaVette Is Definitely Worthy
You could have heard a pin drop in the club; everyone was wrapped in her aura. I think there were probably more than a few tears shed during some of the more soulful songs.
Bettye is touring in support of her new release, Worthy. This album is a collection of songs by some of the best songwriters of our time: Bob Dylan; Lennon and McCartney; Jagger and Richards; and Mary Gauthier and Beth Nielsen Chapman, who penned the title song. In the process of assembling the tracks for this album, she contacted the songwriters and “Bob hasn’t called me back yet.” He should, because her treatment of his ‘Unbelievable’ is terrific.
If Bettye has not felt the emotions conveyed by the lyrics, then she’s a great actress because the raw emotion in her voice that also shows in her every expression is palpable. When she sang James Brown’s ‘Just Between You and Me and The Wall, You’re a Fool’, I knew that she and just about everyone in the room has had that thought in their head at some point (or many points) in their life. I know I have…
And then there is ‘Worthy’, which was the last song in the first part of the set (Bettye performed the new album as a whole, something she said she rarely does). Everyone is worthy of love despite times of despair, and Bettye made us feel the songwriters’ – and her own – pain. The standing ovation she received as she left the stage after this song was much deserved.
She came back to the stage and took requests from the audience. The first was ‘Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)’ penned by Mickey Newbury; this is a song I know well from my youth but had never heard Bettye’s amazing treatment of it. She related that Mickey felt hers was the best version he had heard; while I have not heard many other versions, Bettye’s is incredible. It is very different from the original, but is every bit as good.
Next up was Pete Townshend’s ‘Love, Reign O’er Me’. Bettye’s rendition of that song made me forget The Who’s original.
Last was her song ‘Choices’, requested by one of my tablemates. Bettye said she could not sing it without champagne, so a split was brought to the stage for her! I did not know the song, but it seemed a perfect way to end the show.
After she and her band left the stage to thunderous applause, she returned to the stage alone – after shedding her high heels – and sang one last song for us.
Her touring band is fantastic, and I apologize for not taking any pictures of them. Alan Hill on keyboards (as well as music director), Brett Lucas on guitar, James Simonson on bass, and Darryl Pierce on drums comprise the band. Bettye may take the spotlight at their shows, but they are wonderful support to her and she could not perform the way she does without them.
Bettye, you are worthy.
There was an excellent interview with Bettye in the Boston Globe last week that is worth reading.
Ticket courtesy of Regattabar; all opinions are my own.
Posted on March 1, 2015, in concert reviews, music, Uncategorized and tagged Alan Hill, Bettye LaVette, boston, Brett Lucas, concert review, Darryl Pierce, James SImonson, Muscle Shoals, Regattabar, soul music. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.