Written by UK author John Livings and directed by Simon Myers, At Last: The Etta James Story is a narrative concert telling the story of Etta James’ 57 year career featuring the brilliant Vika Bull rendering a spectacular performance of her heart wrenching music.
Born Jamesetta Hawkins in 1938, Etta James’ career was constantly shadowed by recurring problems with drug addiction; her time spent playing to thousands of fans juxtaposed with periods inside several prisons and rehab clinics. Her passion for life saw her conquer her demons and continued recording and perform into her seventies. James died in early 2012.
But it is the music that is her legacy – winner of six Grammys and 17 Blues Music Awards, the Matriarch of R&B is considered as having bridged the gap between rhythm and blues and rock and roll, and influencing artists from Diana Ross, Janis Joplin and Stevie Wonder, and has inspired the careers of a new generation of artists such as Christina Aguilera, Joss Stone, Amy Winehouse and Adele.
For two hours, the audience are taken on a journey with 22 of James’ most memorable songs including It’s a Man’s Mans’ World, I Just Want To Make Love To You, Spoonful, Sugar On The floor, and perhaps her most well known song, At Last – which has subsequently been covered by a legion of artists over the years.
Best known for work alongside her sister Linda in The Black Sorrows, Bull has established herself as one of Australia’s most powerful female voices, who is confidently backed by the Essential R & B Band under the capable Musical Direction of John McCall. Vika Bull gives a performance that is full of emotion and exceptional vocal ability.
While some of the narrative provided by trumpeter Tibor Gyapjas comes across as stilted, it is James’ music combined with Bulls’ magic voice that drives this highly entertaining showcase of memorable songs.
At Last: The Etta James Story
Athenaeum Theatre, 188 Collins St, Melbourne
Performance: Thursday 14 November 2013 – 7.30pm
Season continues to 24 November 2013
Bookings: (03) 9650 1500 or online at: www.ticketek.com.au
For more information, visit: www.atlasttheettajamesstory.com.au for details.
Image: Vika Bull in At Last: The Etta James Story
Review: Rohan Shearn