Having long been a fan of Etta James, it is good to see a show that celebrates her music, which kept on coming despite an often stormy life. Her career spanned around 50 years, rather an achievement given the drugs and turbulence until the latter part of her life.
The strength of Vika Bull's voice does justice to Jame’s high octane powerful numbers. Though of course, Etta’s voice was so rich and oozing with sass and soul that finding a musical equal would be a tough call. However Bull comes pretty close.
“You can’t fake this music. You might be a great singer or a great musician but, in the end, that’s got nothing to do with it. It’s how you connect to the songs and to the history behind them.” – Etta James
There are many classic James numbers for fans and for those who might not even realise they are fans, from Tell Mama, Tough Love, I Just Wanna Make Love to You, It's a Man's Man's Man's World, I'd Rather Go Blind, W.O.M.A.N., At Last and more.
Directed by Simon Myers and penned by John Livings, the show tells the tale of Etta’s life, interspersed with songs in chronological order. Bull is a passionate fan of the singer and this respect and love for Etta shines through.
Whilst I was fascinated by the tales from Etta’s life and enjoyed Bull’s delivery, the other narration felt a little forced, detracting from the mood of the performance.
Bull is accompanied by a seven-piece ensemble, led by John McAll, that brings R&B grooves and some good jazz music from the early years.
In all, this show is definitely worth catching for a great night out with some good rocking to be had.
The show is on the last legs of a National Tour.
Playhouse, Sydney Opera House
30 April – 5 May
Book tickets: sydneyoperahouse.com or call 02 9250 7777
or through Ticketmaster.com.au
TICKETS ON SALE NOW
Regal Theatre, Subiaco, Perth
From 21 May 2013 – 26 May 2013
Book tickets: www.ticketek.com.au or call 132 849
Playhouse Theatre, Brisbane Powerhouse
From Wed 5 June – Sun 9 June 2013
Tel: 07 3358 8600