A “New Attitude” on jazz standards and Patti LaBelle’s own gems sparkle at The Venue

Photos by Andy Argyrakis

Hardly a season goes by when Patti LaBelle isn’t on the road, but having just dropped her first album in a decade, “Bel Hommage,” made the soul singer’s latest, completely packed visit to The Venue At Horseshoe Casino extra special. With 54 years in show business at “73-years-young,” the headliner more than lived up to the criteria behind Concert Management Inc.’s ongoing “The Legends Series” at the famed Las Vegas-like establishment, and for nearly two hours, Miss Patti took the adoring crowd back to her Philly roots, stretch of pop superstardom and current season of revisiting jazz standards.

Patti LaBelle’s treatment of Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes’ “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” pumped up the dramatic delivery yet another notch, especially when she kicked off one high heel, then unfastened the other and launched it across the stage.

Although many of the selections were rooted in the past, the veteran entertainer brought a “New Attitude” to everything as the opening selection so appropriately proclaimed, often times improvising her way around the familiar while feeding off the energy of attendees. Granted, LaBelle’s uninhibited delivery and sky high screams are qualities that are both cherished by millions or chastised by detractors, and though she repeatedly took the tone totally over the top, the performance was met with constant yelps of delight, camera clicks and the gifting of several flower arrangements (including one from a longtime admirer she actually remembered).

“As I get older, I think I get better strength because God’s been nothing but good to me,” she proclaimed in between secular smashes (“If Only You Knew,” “If You Asked Me To”) and gospel blessings (Marvin Sapp’s “Never Would’ve Made It,” Hezekiah Walker’s “Every Praise”). She also slayed an extended edition of “Isn’t It A Shame” from her days fronting the envelope-pushing girl group Labelle and called much-deserved attention to the smooth “The Jazz In You” from the recent release.

Much of LaBelle’s charm comes in her portrayal of being a people’s diva, and rather than throwing a tantrum over forgotten lyrics during “Right Kind Of Lover,” she instantly admitted the mistake and gave it another whirl. She even flipped the memorable line “I got a burning desire, my soul’s on fire” from “Love, Need And Want You” into being a metaphor for menopause, and a little later, playfully asked crew members to crank up the fans so she could stay cool.

LaBelle’s treatment of Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes’ “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” pumped up the dramatic delivery yet another notch, especially when she kicked off one high heel, then unfastened the other and launched it across the stage. Bringing up several male fans for “Lady Marmalade” also led to a loving free-for-all, with the same fella who brought a bouquet asking permission to get on the ground and roll around as onlookers howled in bewilderment from the eccentric request.

The evening dedicated exclusively to LaBelle, her seven-piece band and three background singers also had some serious sides with “You Are My Friend/What A Friend We Have In Jesus” going out to many of the musical geniuses, world leaders and personal family members that were lost along the way. Following a soaring rendition of “Over The Rainbow,” Shirley Horn’s softer spoken “Here’s To Life” proclaimed “I still believe in chasing dreams and placing bets/ but I had learn that all you give is all you get/ so give it all you got,” which couldn’t have been more impeccable wording to describe the modern day mantra of this one-of-a-kind song interpreter.


For additional information on Patti LaBelle, visit PattiLaBelle.com.

Upcoming concert highlights at The Venue At Horseshoe Casino include Steve Miller Band (Sept. 22); Aaron Lewis (Oct. 6); George Clinton and Larry Graham (Oct. 27); Styx (Nov. 10); Foreigner (Nov. 11); Sinbad (Dec. 2) and Merry Christmas with Keith Sweat and Will Downing (Dec. 9). For additional details, visit ConcertMgmt.com, TheVenueChicago.com and Ticketmaster.com.