Live Show Review: Etta James and Al Green at Chastain Amphitheater

ettajamesSo the evening started out a little threatening and overcast but by the time I made it to Chastain I had put away my rain gear and walked through the good `ole 90% humidity of a June afternoon in Georgia and into the show. Chastain being what it is, I was glad I ate before I came. There was Picnic everywhere and the scents of fried chicken and citronella candles filled the air.

Etta appeared after her “Roots Band” had played a few songs to warm up the crowd and walked slowly to her chair center stage. I was immediately impressed at how sexy a 71 year old woman can sound when she wants to. Songs like I want to Ta Ta you Baby and Janice Joplin’s, Piece of my Heart were funky and danceable. She used her distinctive husky alto and gravelly blues and soul wrenching ballad styles and really mixed up her sound on stage.

Her horn section impressed me almost as much as she did. They were immaculate and transitioned from smooth blue notes to poppy funk without missing a beat. They complemented her perfectly. She ended the Show with At Last, pretty much making my night right there. It is a little awe inspiring going to see a legend but I had no idea what was coming up next.

Al Green, the man with some of the sexiest music of all time, came on the stage and started handing algreenout roses to the ladies in the first few rows. Guys, we might be able to learn a few lessons here.

Let me tell you this. Al Green has a POWERFUL personality. I mean you could almost feel it coming toward you in waves. They call it soul for a reason, and this man has more than anyone I’ve ever seen. His voice is better than ever and he seemed to have a mental link not only with his band, but with the audience as well.

He would start a song, judge the energy of the crowd and if he didn’t like it, he’d just stop the song and move on to something else. If the crowd was groovin’ he could carry the song for an extra 10 minutes and everyone would be so caught up in the song that it didn’t matter.

He played all the songs I came to hear, Tired of Being Alone, Love and Happiness, Lets Stay together etc. I mean wow; He made a claim at the beginning of the show that I wasn’t sure he could follow up on. He said, “Give it to me. Give it to me or I’m gonna have to take it from you.” Now with an older picnicking, wine drinking, conversational Chastain audience I was pretty sure he was going to have to take it from them. Guess what, he did.

Jay Gleaton, Contributor

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