LIVE: Patti LaBelle @ Proctors, 10/29/16

Review by Greg Haymes

Ain’t nothin’ but a Patti party!

Subtle she ain’t. Even at age 72, soul diva Patti LaBelle is as flamboyant, extravagant and uninhibited a vocalist as there is – and she’s been doing it for more than a half-century – but she has that rare ability to reach out and touch hearts – not just for a night, but for a lifetime.

Over the years, I’ve seen my fair share of pop divas from Liza Minnelli to Aretha Franklin, from Whitney Houston to Cher, but I’ve never seen anything like the unabashed outpouring of adoration that Patti LaBelle’s fans lavish on her.

And as ardent as her fans were at Proctors in Schenectady on Saturday night, LaBelle clearly cherished them just as much throughout her 90-minute concert. It was an uncommon and genuine two-way love affair between performer and audience.

She doesn’t serve up concerts; she throws parties, and we’re all invited…

Whether belting out funk rave-ups like the opening “Feels Like Another One” and the iconic disco nugget “Lady Marmalade” (during which she brought a number of fans on stage to sings and dance with her), or slinking into ballads like the lush “If Only You Knew” and “Little Girls” (pared back to just pianist John Stanley’s accompaniment), Labelle clearly knows only one way to sing – with her whole being.

Backed by her ace seven-piece band and trio of singers who each soared above and beyond their background roles, Miss Patti also drew upon a diverse selection of cover tunes – from the vintage ’60s Philly soul gem “If You Don’t Know Me by Now” to Major’s contemporary ballad “Why I Love You” – as well as a show-closing mash-up of Harold Arlen (“Somewhere Over the Rainbow”) and R. Kelly (“I Believe I Can Fly”).

The one drawback of the night was the over-the-top encore of “You Are My Friend,” which LaBelle turned into a maudlin Academy Awards-like “in memorium” tribute to the late members of LaBelle’s family, band and crew, as well as B.B. King, Richard Pryor, Michael Jackson, Joan Rivers, Billie Holiday, David Bowie, Nelson Mandela and countless others…

Of course, even that didn’t matter to her fans, as the loving crowd roared their approval once again.

Feels Like Another One
If Only You Knew
If You Asked Me To
Why I Love You (Major)
Little Girls
When You Talk About Love > Love and Happiness (Al Green)
Love, Need and Want You
On My Own
If You Don’t Know Me by Now (Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes)
When You’ve Been Blessed
Every Praise
I Keep Forgetting (Every Time You’re Near) (Michael McDonald)
Lady Marmalade
Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Harold Arlen) > I Believe I Can Fly (R. Kelly)
You Are My Friend

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