Fringe World Perth 2015

Tell Mama: The Music of Etta James, Fringe World Perth, 2015

0 Comments 25 January 2015

by Stratosfunk
Saturday 24 January
De Parel Spiegeltent
Review by Fiona Hugo

‘Brazen’ is one of my favourite words. It is evocative of dimly lit speakeasies, unpolished saxophones, nimble fingered trumpet players and that man in the corner booth in a top hat with golden rings. Turn the speakeasy into a circus tent, and add women in glittery dresses with big grins and you have my evening at Fringe.

Presenting the music of Etta James tonight was Stratosfunk, a 7 piece jazz band, and three women with mighty voices. Frontwoman Yara Neto seduced us all with her sonorous soul vocals. She moved seamlessly from captivating high energy numbers to soft and slow moments of heartache. With her rich, swelling voice and subtly commanding presence, she never faltered; a woman who maintains unwavering strength even in vulnerability is my kind of woman. Yara was supported by Jesse Gordon and Amy Rosato on back up vocals; big hair, and modest amounts of sass. I have such a penchant for choreographed dance moves that are flawless, but somehow seem spontaneous and natural – when I grow up, I wanna be a backup singer; I’ll be clicking and shimmying in my bathroom tonight.

Each number was interspersed with candid commentary, little spoonfuls (rather, shotglasses) of history, snippets of Etta James’ biography and peeks into how the singers connected with the song. I value this kind of audience interaction – I want to know what a covered song means to the singer – it is that candour that makes tribute nights bearable for me. However, I did wonder if others felt these moments of intimacy detracted from the ‘polish’ of the show.

With moments of heavy pulsing electric guitar, a tambourine cacophony, and rolling baritone sax, my feet could not keep still. The evening ended with a stand up, hand clapping gospel number. A choir was ushered in and we stood in tacit fervor for the God of soul music. Yara even took her shoes off, Etta style.

Recommended for: swooners and crooners, toe tappers, and those who in their heart have big hair, and a glittery dress hidden in their wardrobe.

I told my mama to go and see it tomorrow.

Tell Mama: The Music of Etta James runs until Sunday 25th January


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