Live Review – Aretha- Respect by Jacqui Yeo – The Gov – Thursday 12 March 2020
Words & Photo – Geoff Jenke
Singer, songwriter, pianist and civil rights activist, Aretha Franklin came to acclaim and commercial success after signing to Atlantic records in 1966. Songs like Respect, Chain of Fools, Think and (You Make Me Feel) Like a Natural Woman quickly propelled her past her musical peers. In fact, she is the most charted female in the history of recorded music with 112 charting singles (77 inside the top 100), 17 top ten singles and 20 R&B number ones. Aretha has sold over 75 million records worldwide. What a feat.
Sadly, Aretha Franklin passed away on August 16 2018, aged 76 years.
Jacqui Yeo takes on the songs of Aretha Franklin in a show, naturally, called RESPECT. She has a big band behind her, in trumpet, sax, guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and 2 backup singers to authenticate the sound, which they did magnificently.
Jacqui opened the first set with one of Aretha’s own compositions, Rock Steady from 1972, setting the scene for a night of soul and funk. Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You) from 1967 and Aretha’s first hit, came next and was definitely one of the highlights of the evening. Soulful, serene and surreal. Jacqui’s powerful, yet beautiful voice came to the fore on the track.
Never short on titbits and facts, Jacqui told us the next song, The House That Jack Built reached number 2 on the RnB charts in 1968. A couple of covers came next in Son of a Preacher Man (originally by Dusty Springfield) and Spanish Harlem (Ben E King) and lived up to the original versions.
Love is Like a See Saw, Say a Little Prayer and Natural Woman rounded out a superb first set. Jacqui and band had a lot to live up to for the second set.
While the first set was pure sweet soul music, the second set was more funk and very 1980’s. Jacqui and band started with the smooth sound of Bridge Over Troubled Waters that, to be honest, went on way too long. Chains bought things back on track and filled the dance floor in front of the stage. The lady’s in the crowd were living it up and out for a good night. With the set of 1980’s songs that followed, a good night was to be had by them all.
Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves, I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) (originally a duet with George Michael) and Freeway of Love certainly proved popular with the crowd, but for me, I was looking for more soul.
Jumping Jack Flash finished the set with the backing singers joining in on a very lively version of the Stones classic.
The encore commenced with an intense version of Aretha’s 1967 song Dr Feelgood. Chris Martin on keyboards supplied a hauntingly beautiful riff throughout the song to compliment Jacqui’s equally beautiful haunting vocals. Easily the best song done on the night. It all finished of course with Respect, which ironically had Dr Feelgood on the B side in 1967. Jacqui had the crowd singing along and dancing wildly for the finale. Jacqui told us they could play a second night of songs from Aretha, and not play any songs the same and it would be still great. I think they could play several nights of different songs and they would still all be great nights. However, for this one, it was the first set that won me over.