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August 12, 2007

Aretha Franklin @ The Dell East - Philadelphia, 8/6

'Can I get someone to come up and cut this fan off for me? I just have to be hot tonight!' said Aretha Franklin to roars of approval.  It goes to show you this entertainer doesn't play games when it comes to feelin' her music.  In the simmering heat of the night, classic song after classic song rang though East Fairmount Park’s Dell East outdoor venue.  Rumor had it that something had upset the diva before show time and Franklin was not going to come out (allegedly).  Thankfully she did and I got to experience some real music history.  Her band and singers were on point and her audience enthusiastically exalted her throughout the show.

The enjoyment of hearing a powerful and legendary voice like Aretha’s was made doubly entertaining by the material she covered—decades of hits!  It felt like a rare gift.  Franklin is a singer versed in many genres and a performer who can put on a Jazz-only show with as much ease as anything else, but it was a fiery classic soul and R&B show that Franklin lovers got this night.  This is the type of full-on performance that goes beyond entertaining to awe-inspiring at moments.  At 65, it is great that she still loves to show off too, riffing freely between songs and commanding the stage with a diva’s presence... there's nothing like a random vocal run between your sentences.  Franklin has that elusive old-school ability to entertain and connect with her crowd in a way that only a legend knows how…



When Franklin took to the piano mid set, shouts of ‘you go girl!’ rang from the audience, and you knew something serious was getting ready to go down.  Begin a goosebump-inducing piano intro to ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water.’  The singer took her shoes off and seemed completely at home when tickling the keys.  The emotion of that classic made it my favorite part of the show.

Seeing an artist like Franklin live definitely reaffirms the roots of contemporary soul amusicians like Alicia Keys and John Legend who keep classic elements in their music.


After another couple of songs, Franklin sat at the piano again for the song ‘A Woman Falling Out of Love’ (with emphasis on 'out') from an upcoming album she calls Aretha.  It was one of a few new songs that were rather well-received.  The new material consisted of ballads about love and heartache.  Simply listening was a nice contrast to the sing-along fare of an anthem like 'Respect.'  And the hits were spread evenly so they maintained the energy.  When you wondered how she could top a great rendition of ‘Natural Woman,’ you only had to wait a few moments to find out with ‘Chain of Fools.’ (I said-ah chain chain chaaaaain ah).


There’s no doubt that this performer loved the stage as much as the people loved her tonight because the encores kept right on coming. I took this pic while I thought I was on my way out lol.  Audience members already halfway to the exit went right back to their seats for a 2nd, and even a 3rd time.  All it took was a simple announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, the Queen of Soul!”

For the first encore, Franklin dedicated a gospel song to Clara Ward, the late singer from the famous Ward Sisters and a Philly native.  The show eventually closed with a never-ending rendition of ‘Freeway of Love’ that was so energized all I could think of was a Tylenol after a while lol, but it still won me over.  For me this was like going back in time to an era I’ve only read about and listened to.  Now I can say I experienced some of it!

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Julia D. Bien-Aime

I think that the review of this piece written on Aretha Franklin made me feel that I was there. Although I have seen Aretha once, the words to describe her performance reaffirms that Aretha Franklin still has it.


Not many people can say they saw a living legend. Aretha Franklin definitely is just that. I would've loved to see her perform RESPECT. Great review, keep it up!


that is a true diva for you!! lol i love how you described her stage presence, I can definitely see her doing that. There's a lot of 'old school' acts that tour but she's one that I would make sure to catch if I get the chance...

ManDa gUrL

Ms. Franklin, Ms. Franklin... sounds like she did her thAng! lol it's glad to know that she is still her thang and doing it well.


There is much to be said when you are in the presence of a livinig legend.. and this article sure did capture a lot of them.. keep it up


You're right WenZday! There is just something about watching a legend that makes you pay extra attention. It's like you imagine what it would have been like to be there when those songs were the soundtrack of people's lives.

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