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At Last

Posted on Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Dave!Have you ever had an experience so utterly bizarre and disturbing that you just can't find words to adequately describe it?

That pretty much sums up the Etta James concert I attended with Ms. Sizzle this evening. Though, before I get to the bizarre and disturbing part, I should preface this entry by saying I GOT TO SEE THE LEGENDARY MISS ETTA JAMES IN CONCERT!!! To say I am a fan is a bit of an understatement. I've loved her forever, but it was after having heard Etta sing her signature song "At Last" on the movie soundtrack for Pleasantville, I became mildly obsessed. I started tracking down what music of hers I could find, and even ended up with some stuff on vinyl. Of course, now-a-days you can get pretty much everything from the iTunes Music Store, but back then it was a little more challenging.

But oh so worth it.

Etta James has a voice that's as big as a house and fills your soul. Truly a legend.

Fast forward to a month ago when Sizzle announces on Twitter that Miss James is coming to Seattle. Having never seen her perform live, I ask Sizz if she wants some company, and she manages to snag us third-row seats for the event. It doesn't get much sweeter than that!

Now, before I get to why I'm having a difficult time writing about it, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Etta James can still blow the doors off a concert hall. At eighty-one years old, that's a pretty impressive feat. She may enter the stage on a scooter and have to sit down to perform, but you'd never know it to listen to her. After all these years, she's just as amazing as you could hope for.


This had to be the single most sexually-charged, balls-nasty, horrifyingly inappropriate concert I have ever been to.

And I've seen Madonna.

For the first song, which I believe was a stirring rendition of "Tell Mama," (but could be wrong because I am still traumatized), Etta... performed(?)... some kind of sex act on stage. It was hilarious, and the crowd was going nuts while she was making sexually-suggestive hand gestures, making kissie-face noises, flicking her tongue at the crowd, licking up the microphone, getting up and shaking her ass, fondling her breasts, and rubbing her crotch. Sizzle and I were dying, because it was as if Etta was making a joke about being 81 years old and still singing a song that was so sexually charged. It was all brilliant and very, very funny. And Etta sounded amazing.

Wiping the tears from our eyes, we applauded her "act" and waited for the second song to begin. I'm thinking it was the senses-shattering "I'd Rather Go Blind" (but, again, I'm still in a state of shock and could be wrong).

The inappropriate crotch rubbing, tongue flicking, and breast fondling continued in earnest.

On pretty much every song in her hour-long performance.

Things went from being a hysterical parody to just... wrong.

And then came the "fuck Beyonce" rant, where Etta just went off the rails about being able to kick Beyonce's ass... presumably because Beyonce sang her song, "At Last," at Obama's inauguration. This came as a total surprise, because I had read that Etta liked Beyonce's rendition, and said she was proud to have had her sing the song. And being that Beyonce credits Etta James as an influence, and worships the ground she walks on, it was all very... puzzling. I didn't quite understand what was going on.

I still don't.

What kills me is that Etta James is still amazing. Even at 81 and singing from a scooter, her voice will slay you. She doesn't need to do the whole scary sex-act car-wreck thing. It's just a distraction from an incredible performance, and is a disservice to both herself and the audience.

Do I regret going?


But something tells me the image of her "performance" will haunt my nightmares for a while yet...

Categories: Music 2009Click To It: Permalink


  1. Chris says:

    Are you sure it wasn’t a seizure or a stroke?

  2. kapgar says:

    Katie took issue with Rocco DeLuca practically making love to his guitar on stage a couple summers ago. This might not fly with her even though we both, too, love Etta. “At Last” was our first dance as a married couple, after all.

  3. Avitable says:

    That’s creeping me out just thinking about it.

  4. sizzle says:

    You captured it precisely!

    My eyes are still bleeding my my ears are ringing with the sounds of her beautiful voice.

    I am SO GLAD we got to go together. 🙂

  5. A Lewis says:

    Sounds like you could have possibly used a cigarette afterwards……for the afterglow! What a great evening.

  6. Finn says:

    I honestly don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Sometimes I think it’s better just to listen to the songs and not have to be faced with the reality of a real person (because they so often disappoint, don’t they?).

    On the other hand, it gave you something to blog about. 🙂

  7. Wow. I came here via Sizzle’s page and reading about it was still just as shocking the second time. I can’t believe what you guys experienced. I’m glad the night was not a waste. I agree with you though on her doing herself a disservice. She is so amazing and so talented. It would be a shame for her to be written off as crazy in the end. I still love her.

  8. Hilly says:

    I said this at Sizzle’s but I will say it here….I totally thought you guys were joking with your twats. I mean, I know how you can be a little kidder and so, rather than believe that Etta was rubbing her kitty, I uh…chose to believe you were silly. 🙂

  9. Karl says:

    Wow, that is rather disturbing to imagine. I do love her voice.

  10. Jeff Zucker says:

    I hear therapy can do wonderful things for people who have been through traumatic events. I’d hate to see you suffer from flashbacks.

    BTW, where is the Davetoon capturing this event? Bad Monkey as Etta, Dave in the audience……

  11. Twinkie says:

    Maybe she was drunk or high? Or maybe she should have been?

    I recently went to the George Jones concert in Bakersfield (he’s OLD country.. he’s Johnny Cash old) and the poor guy could hardly catch his breath after each song and yet each song (and the performance in general) just ROCKED. I mean, to see a legend like that.. well, WOW.

  12. Sarah says:

    I think you just scarred me for life just posting about it.


  13. Foo says:

    I have to say I thought you guys were kidding around with the tweets too. Wow…81 year old girating tongue…just wow. Glad you guys had fun!

  14. lizriz says:

    Wow, that sounds truly bizarre! What an experience.

  15. Sybil Law says:

    I am so sorry to laugh at your disturbing experience, but that really IS insanely bizarre and, therefore, funny to me!

  16. sizzle says:

    A Davetoon of that experience would further traumatize me. 🙂

    (In my previous comment, please excuse my typo- saying “my” twice when I meant “but my”.)

  17. Add me to the list who thought you were joking when I saw your Tweets. Now the whole amateur porn tweet makes a lot more sense. OMFG! I love Etta James, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to listen to her music again without thinking of her grabbing her crotch. :-/

  18. ~moe~ says:

    You’re not the first I’ve read who has been disturbed by her concert performances. It’s sad, really. What an incredible musician and stooping to that level.

  19. Methinks Etta was just a little bit horny.

  20. yellojkt says:

    I’ve see Crystal Gayle talk dirty to an audience. It turned my brown eyes blue.

  21. And now she’ll haunt my nightmares too. Eww, scary.

  22. First I wanna say – I’M SO JEALOUS!!!!!

    Then I wanna say – oh my.

    And then a big sigh.

    Still – I’m really really jealous.

  23. Whitenoise says:

    Wow, weirdness… Reminds me, though, of an argument I once read by a 50-something Montreal woman who argued that she still felt like the same girl who wore miniskirts and fishnet stockings, therefore…

  24. whall says:

    So does that make her a GGGMILF?

  25. Deb says:

    Does it make it any better if you know she’s only 71 ?? hahahahahaha

  26. Dude that is wrong on so many levels!!!

    Sorry but that is a total turn off to me!!!

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