I was in Ottawa on Thursday to attend the Blues Fest for the first time. We saw four live acts, culminating in the headline act, Etta James. I've been a big Etta James fan for years, and this was an eye-opener. She is now 70 years old, but she was still carrying on like a raunchy sex-starved teenager; even though she could hardly stand up and spent most of the concert seated, she occasionally staggered to her feet and hobbled around the stage, shaking her rump suggestively, smacking her dentures, and making lewd gestures with the microphone. It was kind of repulsive - like watching your grandmother drunk at a wedding reception. She has also lost a lot of weight and looks like she just got out of the hospital. Not only that, out of her vast repertoire, she sang the most forgettable songs; mainly tunes like Stop the Wedding and others from her Motown days. There were hardly any of her challenging songs, like Burn Down the Cornfield or Randy Newman's The God Song - ones that really pushed the envelope in their day. It was a shame - I hated seeing her like that. It's time to retire with some dignity.
However, she was backed by a great seven-piece band, including an actual Hammond B-3 organ, which covered for her very well.