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Volume 34
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Legendary diva Etta James rocks the zoo!
Legendary diva Etta James rocks the zoo!
"Seattle is so hip, so GAY and so cool."- Etta James

by Richard Kennedy - SGN A&E Writer

Etta James

August 16 @ Woodland Park Zoo

Before Etta James came on stage, her 7-piece band consisting of horns, percussion, guitars and keyboards warmed up the crowd with a couple of songs and then launched into "I Just Want To Make Love To You." At this point, James entered through the back of the stage and brought the audience to her first standing ovation, before she even did anything.

At 68, this musical legend showed fans that she planned on rocking, gyrating and belting like she always has. As she leaned against the piano she was thrusting against it while singing about "making love". When she discovered that her mic wasn't loud enough, she kept demanding the sound person crank up her vocals. For the first two songs it still wasn't loud enough and she was ready to launch into a diva tirade. Rock the audience is exactly what she intended to do.

Decked out in black denim and a rhinestone T-shirt that read "Cowgirl," James showed off her newly svelte figure. Her hair was pulled back and she looked and sounded like a million bucks. For her second number she sang her classic "I'd Rather Go Blind" in her raw and twitchy style. When she got to the lyric "Sitting here, thinking about your kiss and your warm embrace," she dropped the "warm embrace" part and stuck the mic between her legs and jerked it around phallically. The audience seemed a little awkward at first, but laughed after the second time she did it. Sexuality has always been a part of her performance and she certainly wasn't compromising the crude humor and dirty gestures just because there were a bunch of kids running around the zoo.

Later, during "I Wanna Ta Ta You" she even made handjob gestures at the crowd between her legs. Nothing surprised show goers more than at the end of this song when she made the guitar player kneel down during his solo and put his head in her crotch while she writhed in mock ecstasy. It was raunchy, raw and hilarious all at the same time.

She did slow things down a little with some classic ballads. "A Lover is Forever" and "At Last" were fantastic. "Damn Your Eyes" was truly impressive when it turned into "Besame Mucho" and then back to the chorus, blending the two songs beautifully. She gave Seattle an awesome shout out between numbers stating that she loved it here because "Seattle is so hip, so GAY and so cool." What can I say? She knows her fans.

The audience was of course on their feet by the end of the show when she covered Al Green's classic "Love and Happiness." For her final number she performed "Sugar On The Floor" and dedicated it to her mother. It was a song that she recorded in the 70s with a famous Atlantic Records producer, and has been her favorite song since. With her obvious energy, and certainly her vocal pipes in tact, I think it's a safe bet that she won't be retiring any time soon. The "hip, Gay and cool" Seattle will welcome her back anytime.

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