Patti LaBelle strolled onto the Strathmore Music Center stage Friday as regal as a queen.
After acknowledging and accepting the love, applause, and flowers from her adoring subjects, Ms. LaBelle started the show with the only uptempo tune of the night, A New Attitude. Looking much younger than her 67 years in a lovely blue sheath and a kimono that only made it through the second song, LaBelle moved seamlessly from one hit to another often letting the backup handle the heavy lifting.
It is not clear why Ms LaBelle finds it necessary to mention her age because the effect is that some audience members opined that she can no longer do a two-hour show. Most of the program included familiar ballads, If You Ask Me To and a duet of On My Own with her piano/arranger, among others. It felt like an evening of The Quiet Storm where host Melvin Lindsey made Patti’s songs part of most programs.
Again backed by seven musicians and three singers, LaBelle was often overpowered. However, there was one brief moment when the band was silent and she abandoned her microphone to sing a few clear phrases of “Two Steps Away” to the delight of the crowd. Patti LaBelle has been in the business for 50 years and knows exactly how to bring her audience to their feet.
This show is basically the same as the offering last year with the only element of surprise or suspense being: will the three men she encourages to join her on stage be able to sing and/or dance? The three on Friday were hilarious.