Sometime you can conjure all that greatness with a single word.
Elvis. Dylan. Lennon. McCartney. Bruce.
Aretha. On Saturday, the unchallenged “Queen of Soul” put reports of her ill health to rest with a powerhouse performance in the Events Center at the Seneca Niagara Casino.
A sold-out room welcomed her back from a brief exile following a bout with an undisclosed illness late last year. Perhaps relief following the realization that she was still with us had something to do with it, but I’m guessing that the strength of her singing was the reason for the crowd’s rapturous response.
Not only is the Queen still with us, but she’s still killing it — still hitting the notes, still investing songs she could probably sing in her sleep with the soulfulness of the moment, and still making all who’d strive toward her throne look foolish.
Franklin entered after an introduction from her band — a 10-piece horn section, four backing singers, and standard “rock band” set-up — with her signature “Higher and Higher.” She was singing with power and range from the get-go.
Dressed in a tie-dye-ish gown, her hair in a tight curl, Franklin looked slimmer and healthier than the last time she played the same room. More immediately apparent was the fact that her voice — sure, strained and stressed a bit with the passage of time, but still a wonderfully resonant instrument— was in robust form.