You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Etta James

Etta James takes the stage in a modest fashion, hobbling across it on her surgically replaced knee. But once she makes it to the mikestand and leans into a gritty "Come to Mama," any vestige of uncertainty is banished; she is in command. With a husky voice that's both brassy and vulnerable, James at 65 is still a formidable presence.

With:
Band: Mike Finnigan, Donto James, Sametto James, Dave Mathews, Bobby Murray, Tom Poole, Josh Sklair (musical director), Lee Thornburg, Jimmy Zavala.

Etta James takes the stage in a modest fashion, hobbling across it on her surgically replaced knee. But once she makes it to the mikestand and leans into a gritty “Come to Mama,” any vestige of uncertainty is banished; she is in command. With a husky voice that’s both brassy and vulnerable, combining jazzy phrasing with a gospel singer’s sense of drama, James at 65 is still a formidable presence.

At the House of Blues on Saturday night, James led her Roots Band in a set that was closer to cabaret than the bluesy show she played last year at the same venue. Hits, including a passionate “I’d Rather Go Blind” and “At Last” (the latter dedicated to singer Norah Jones, who was in attendance), alternate with forgotten chestnuts such as the torchy “A Lover Is Forever” and the crowd-pleasing sensuality of “Sugar on the Floor,” plus medleys of songs by Jimmy Reed, Otis Redding and Al Green, all interspersed with bawdy stories and teasing banter with the enthusiastic aud, who cheered every time she pulled herself out of the chair and shook her hips.

The one thing missing from the nearly two-hour set was any mention of her fine new album, “Let’s Roll,” due next month from Private Music. But whether she performs new material or not, there’s no denying that James is an American treasure, and a welcome presence whatever she sings.

James plays B.B. King’s Blues Club in New York May 23-25 and returns to Los Angeles July 9 for a date at the Hollywood Bowl.

Etta James

House of Blues; 1,000 capacity; $44

Production: Presented by House of Blues Concerts. Reviewed April 5, 2003.

Cast: Band: Mike Finnigan, Donto James, Sametto James, Dave Mathews, Bobby Murray, Tom Poole, Josh Sklair (musical director), Lee Thornburg, Jimmy Zavala.

More Music

  • Sam Smith Cancels iHeartRadio Performance Due

    Sam Smith Pulls Out of iHeartRadio Performance Due to Vocal Emergency

    Etta James takes the stage in a modest fashion, hobbling across it on her surgically replaced knee. But once she makes it to the mikestand and leans into a gritty “Come to Mama,” any vestige of uncertainty is banished; she is in command. With a husky voice that’s both brassy and vulnerable, combining jazzy phrasing […]

  • Benny Medina'The Today Show', New York,

    D.A. Declines to Charge Benny Medina With 2004 Sexual Assault

    Etta James takes the stage in a modest fashion, hobbling across it on her surgically replaced knee. But once she makes it to the mikestand and leans into a gritty “Come to Mama,” any vestige of uncertainty is banished; she is in command. With a husky voice that’s both brassy and vulnerable, combining jazzy phrasing […]

  • J. ColeWireless Festival, Day 1, Finsbury

    J. Cole Announces New Date for Dreamville Festival Postponed by Hurricane Florence

    Etta James takes the stage in a modest fashion, hobbling across it on her surgically replaced knee. But once she makes it to the mikestand and leans into a gritty “Come to Mama,” any vestige of uncertainty is banished; she is in command. With a husky voice that’s both brassy and vulnerable, combining jazzy phrasing […]

  • Singer Win Butler performs with Canadian

    Concert Review: Arcade Fire Perform Debut Album 'Funeral' in Its Entirety

    Etta James takes the stage in a modest fashion, hobbling across it on her surgically replaced knee. But once she makes it to the mikestand and leans into a gritty “Come to Mama,” any vestige of uncertainty is banished; she is in command. With a husky voice that’s both brassy and vulnerable, combining jazzy phrasing […]

  • Jakob Dylan2018 Film Festival Opening Night

    LA Film Festival: Jakob Dylan Talks Music Documentary 'Echo in the Canyon'

    Etta James takes the stage in a modest fashion, hobbling across it on her surgically replaced knee. But once she makes it to the mikestand and leans into a gritty “Come to Mama,” any vestige of uncertainty is banished; she is in command. With a husky voice that’s both brassy and vulnerable, combining jazzy phrasing […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content