Associated Press photo
Patti LaBelle kicked up her heels (literally and figuratively), raised the roof, made people cry, and did just about everything but heal the sick on Saturday night at Mystic Lake Casino Showroom.
Here are a few thoughts about the R&B diva’s first Twin Cities appearance since 2000.
- After 51 years on the road, the veteran from Philly still has a stunning voice. She showed exemplary control, amazing elasticity and the uncanny ability to still unleash that piercing, glass-shattering scream. She would move the microphone away from her mouth to provide a different dynamic. She even sang without the mike for a powerful passage. Nothing was more breathtaking than her rendition of “Over the Rainbow,” a study in subtlety and dynamics.
- She knows how to get emotional. She called a waitress she’d met the night before to the foot of the stage – along with the waitress’ two daughters. The woman’s name was Jackie and Patti explained she had a sister named Jackie who died of cancer at age 44. Patti brought herself and Jackie to tears singing “Love, Need and Want You.”
- At least three times, LaBelle told the fans that she was 69. She seemed tired and winded at first – always very present, though, making cracks about Minnesota with a “Fargo” accent, shaking hands with concertgoers and accepting flowers and even a hand-fan (which she used much of the night) from fans. When one, apparently late-arriving fan shouted a request for “New Attitude,” LaBelle said she thought she’d already done it. But she offered to do it again – next year.
- She insisted that she’s not a diva and that the word isn’t even in the dictionary. But she talked about all the younger stars, including Fantasia and Pink, asking her for advice. And more than once, she pointed out that she recorded a song first – before a younger star covered it. Diva or not, LaBelle sure seemed more real than Diana Ross or Aretha Franklin did in concert.
- Always a fashion plate, LaBelle wore a white-on-white dress, with magenta trim and a dusty rose stole when she arrived onstage. For the encore, it was black pants (they looked like velvet) and top with a black fur collar. Her wig was a bob. Between songs, she often looked into a hand mirror to check her make-up (she was sweating) and her wig.
- On top of the white baby grand piano onstage, LaBelle had three other pairs of high heels and one pair of flats – plus water. She did kick off her shoes once and then sat on a plush living room chair to change into another pair of heels.
- LaBelle had an excellent seven-man band with two female backup singers. She gave several of them opportunities to shine in the spotlight, especially singer/pianist John Stanley. Loved guitarist Hot Sauce Cummings and his hairdo – cornrows on the sides, a giant Mohawk on top – because it evoked vintage Patti.
- For “Lady Marmalade,” LaBelle invited five men onstage, letting them each sing the chorus solo and then dance by himself. There was no question that Lloyd stole the show. In fact, he was so compelling as a singer and dancer that LaBelle insisted that he take his own bow with her after the other fellows had left the stage.
Here is LaBelle’s set list from Saturday's 90-minute performance:
New Attitude/ If You Asked Me To/ If Only You Knew/ Right Kinda Lover/ Somebody Loves You/ Love, Need and Want You/ On My Own/ Talk About Love/ medley Love Has Finally Come >Little Girls>Come What May > Two Steps Away/ Lord’s Side/ Lady Marmalade/ Over the Rainbow ENCORE You Are My Friend