Franklin – a celebration of the music of Aretha FranklinAfter the exquisitely ice cool tribute to Marlene Deitrich Ms Bodycoat delivered earlier this year it was interesting to see how she would approach this completely different kettle of fish; a tribute to the legendary queen of soul, Aretha Franklin.

Bodycoat stepped smartly across the stage, resplendent in a gorgeous Aurelio Costarella creation composed of taupe leather fish scales and matching ostrich bolero. Opening the proceedings with a zippy rendition of “Rock Steady” she won the appreciative near-capacity audience over completely. Bopping along with her the audience recognized a fantastic team of musicians. Bodycoat is a fair player and took every opportunity to acknowledge their strengths, individually and as a powerfully forceful backing band.

As she so rightly observed a tribute to Franklin is a difficult ask in that there is a legion of “classics” and choosing what to include is the hardest part.

After a groovy “Chain of Fools” she moved adeptly into the lower-key Burt Bacharach “Say A Little Prayer For You”.The rousing “You Better Think” was followed by an interesting (hither to me) unknown number, the passionate “Me and My Man”. She then introduced the audience to the band. As an ensemble and individually, they were worthy of plaudits. They were Julia Jenkins & Solomon Pitt: backing vocals, saxophone & percussion: James Sandon, trumpet: Ricki Mallet, electric bass: Matt Bell, drums: Ben Falle and musical director, arranger, pianist & keyboards the indefatigable and amazing Tim Cunniffe.

Speaking briefly between numbers, Bodycoat explained she would devote no time to biographical details of Franklin’s life and career but announced “The gig is all about the music, and to celebrate that music.”

The range,volume and length of sound that issued from such a diminutive figure as Bodycoat was quite phenomenal. The arrangements were simply excellent, often closely echoing the tone and feel of the original Franklin recordings. There were a few surprises (to me anyway), for example I was not familiar with “Show Me The Way to Soulville”.

In the second set our diva returned in another delicious Costarella creation this time a ruched chartreuse chiffon mini frock. Julia Jenkins shed her earlier bolero to display a striking purple satin full length dress with matching abbreviated feather waistcoat. But enough fashion it was indeed all about the music. The inevitable but wonderful “Respect” lead to a melange of songs, well-known and not so well–known including “‘Til You Come Back To Me” and “Today I’m Singing the Blues” – some lovely saxophone and trumpet work displayed here. A delicious version of “Walk On By” had the audience cooing along.

After this we were treated to a couple of divine duos shared by the lead with her two backup singers. The first with Solomon Pitt, whose luscious tones simply melted into Bodycoat’s in a wonderful rendition of “When The Mountain Was High.” This was followed by a rousing rendition of “Sisters (are doing it for themselves)" with Julia Jenkins.

To close we were treated to a soaring version of “Freeway of Love”.

An ecstatic audience demanded and got the perfect “Retha encore. “I’m going to close with a song no tribute to her should be without”.... “You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman”.

I don’t like to gloat (much!) but Perth is full of marvellous musicians, both from here (“Is it something in the water?” Ms Bodycoat ponders) or is it that it’s so pleasant to live here that it’s full of people from somewhere else? This was such a fabulous show it proved the maxim indisputably.

Franklin – a celebration of the music of Aretha Franklin
Ali Bodycoat

Venue: Downstairs at the Maj, Perth
Dates: Wednesday 28, Thursday 20, Friday 30 & Saturday 30 September @ 7.30pm
Bookings: BOCS Ticketing (08) 9484 1133 | or at any BOCS outlet

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