Review and photograph by Tim Livingston
Stunning, beguiling, sexy, raw, emotional, gritty, smooth, transforming, independent, uplifting. original, gracious, dignified, powerful, stirring, heartfelt, down-to-earth, upbeat, soulful, bluesy, uncompromising, full of youthful exuberance, wise and witty…
Just a few of the words that come to mind while experiencing the terrific Bettye LaVette in concert recently at Club Helsinki in Hudson. You may have heard her story – under-appreciated during the early days of ’60s soul, but having a major resurgence in the second half of her life/career, due in part to some smart musical choices, an epic Kennedy Honors performance honoring the Who and singing at President Obama’s inauguration.
Drawing from the songbooks of such writers as George Harrison, Neil Young, Bob Seger (yes, she actually made me like the song “Like A Rock”), Lucinda Williams, Bob Dylan and Pete Townshend, Bettye transforms these works into her own triumphs, at times even exceeding the originals with her inspired, soulful interpretations.
She had the crowd at Helsinki simply mesmerized from her “star-time” entrance, with her voice booming from off-stage before entering the room, until the final notes of her closer, a stirring a cappella take on Sinead O’Connor’s “I Do Not Want What I Have Not Got.”
Truly amazing and one of those legendary performers that needs to be added to your must-see bucket list.