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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Love for the Holidays at BB King NYC

Darlene Love returned to BB King NYC last night for her penultimate performance in a string of five evenings throughout the holiday season. Billed as a Christmas show, it was indeed that and more.

In full diva attire (yes, there was a costume change midway through the performance), Ms Love was both dramatic and, at an admitted 73 years of age, inspirational. Her eyes alone read "diva" thanks to her make-up artist La Sonya Gunter. Thick, thick lashes and heavily defined eyebrows with a glittery eggshell-blue eye shadow, her hair a curly mop that at times had a life of its own, it is no wonder she has such a significant following of gay men. She did the first set in a lacy, sheer black top and tight silver pants, and the second set in a form-fitting lacy white skirt and top.

As always, we were treated graciously by BB King's always-outstanding staff (attentive but not intrusive) and seated next to a husband and wife originally from England, now living in Toronto. They adored Darlene as much as we did. The audience, at large, was quite demonstrative in showing its appreciation of this act.

A class act, that is. Ms Love always was that and now she's glammed it up several notches.

She opened with a rockin' version of "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" before segueing into her classic Phil Spector version of "Marshmallow Word." As is sometimes the case at BB King, we found the mix to be a bit heavy on the instrumentals, though Darlene's voice is a sonic force undiminished throughout the decades.

There was no shortage of hits originally produced by Spector, though Love snarked that karma is a bitch. "Da Doo Ron Ron," "Today I Met the Boy I'm Gonna Marry," and "He's a Rebel" were all performed with passion. She ended her show with "Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)" to a final standing ovation.

Darlene touchingly paid tribute to the late singer Patty Darcy with a powerfully interpreted gospel tune entitled "Marvelous."

The title song from "All Alone at Christmas" was part of tonight's act, a song I adore during holiday season. The Saturday Night Live satirical video that featured Darlene singing "Christmastime for the Jews" was wonderfully clever and added some seasonal mirth.

Tracey, Merv and I @ BB King NYC
Ms Love, at times, emitted a Dave Letterman-like laugh and, during her engaging patter, a very Bette Midler-like line delivery or two...  or more. The influence of famous friends obviously wore off. I've been following Love since her Bottom Line days and am thrilled by her newly found fame.

As a back-up singer with The Blossoms, Darlene paid tribute to her work with Marvin Gaye with a protracted medley of his songs. It is hard to believe that anyone at this show would be disappointed by the sheer variety of material, and by one of the greatest pop/gospel voices of our era.

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