Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1093

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Betty Wright: Barbican Centre, London 21/7/19

Betty Wright: Barbican Centre, London 21/7/19 @BluesandSoul.com
Betty Wright: Barbican Centre, London 21/7/19 @BluesandSoul.com Betty Wright: Barbican Centre, London 21/7/19 @BluesandSoul.com Betty Wright: Barbican Centre, London 21/7/19 @BluesandSoul.com Betty Wright: Barbican Centre, London 21/7/19 @BluesandSoul.com Betty Wright: Barbican Centre, London 21/7/19 @BluesandSoul.com Betty Wright: Barbican Centre, London 21/7/19 @BluesandSoul.com Betty Wright: Barbican Centre, London 21/7/19 @BluesandSoul.com Betty Wright: Barbican Centre, London 21/7/19 @BluesandSoul.com Betty Wright: Barbican Centre, London 21/7/19 @BluesandSoul.com

Betty Wright was just 17 when her signature record, "Clean Up Woman", was released. It's testament to her pedigree as a singer and creative force that nearly half a century later she can draw a crowd. So much so, that one night at London's Barbican Centre soon became two because of high demand. And for those who came along for the second show, there was plenty to rave about.

The 65-year-old exudes charm, quipping about British weather - "You call this a heatwave?" - and giving some interesting insights into her career.

I was a big fan of her collaboration with The Roots a few years back on the "Betty Wright: The Movie" record, and the evening demonstrated that her voice remains a thing of beauty.

Sporting a lot of sparkles and eye-catching pink hair, Wright has undoubted star quality. A version of "Smother Me With Your Love" showcased an artist still at the peak of her powers, and "Thank You For The Many Things You've Done" was joyful. The seated Barbican crowd weren't seated for long, dancing as Wright grooved and paced around the stage.

She slowed down the pace with an acoustic rendition of "AD2000", telling how she had worked with neo-soul legend Erykah Badu to address a period of intense turmoil.

Not unexpectedly, the opening notes of "Clean Up Woman" was greeted with huge cheers, and still sounds fresh after all these years.
Her vocal range is astonishing, and she has a wealth of material to pick from.

If she does head back into the future, let's hope Wright can channel the energy of her live performances. She may have been very young when she shot to fame, but talent never dies.

PHOTOS: DAVE BURKE
Words Dave Burke

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