Concert Review: Sister Sledge

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    Kathy Sledge/Sister Sledge
    B.B. King's Blues Club New York
    Thursday March 18th, 2010

    Kathy Sledge/Sister Sledge
    B.B. King's Blues Club New York
    Thursday March 18th, 2010

    Sister Sledge. Simply saying the name should evoke bell-bottom, afro puff and disco ball memories galore. It is difficult to believe that it has been close to 37 years that they have been in the industry and even tougher to believe that Kathy Sledge is still sounding fabulous and rocking stages internationally. At B.B. Kings Blues Club in New York City, Kathy Sledge, Audra Lomax, Su Wingate and Kathy's daughter Kristen Gabrielle Sledge, came together to bring the Sister Sledge classics and then some, back to life in their own way.

    All the ladies looked absolutely fabulous, uniformly in black attire. Satin, stretch, form fitting, to loose, the variety was a sight to see. Their vocals were stirring and passionate, flowing all together for their hits "Thinking Of You" and "Lost In Music."  But The seated venue made it difficult to feel the vibrancy of their Stevie Wonder cover "Another Star." 

    Kathy shared her new song "Love Will" with the audience, but it was only a teaser! As soon as she started the song, we were abruptly cut off unexpectedly as we started to get comfortable. "It's only a snippet!" Kathy chimed out. Thank goodness there was an explanation, it certainly helped in wiping off the many dumbfounded expressions in the venue.

    "He's The Greatest Dancer" is a Sister Sledge favorite and it met a heavy applause upon the first note. However this was the part of the show where Kathy invites the 'greatest dancers' in the audience to take part in a dance off. An unfortunately long dance off, it took some of the momentum out of the show, and Kathy smartly followed it with a slow number, the beautiful "Fallen," which was made famous by Lauren Wood, was sung by Kathy ever so sweetly.

    Kathy said she wanted to sing something from her heart, feeling we were all missing Michael Jackson. This appeared to be a surprise to her band as well, who apparently didn know it was on the performance list. She explained how she felt every nuance and word of "They Can't Take That Away From Me" penned by George Gershwin, made it the quintessential track for Michael. Along with a beautiful montage, were heartfelt words describing how Kathy felt about MIchael Jackson's passing stating, "Touring with Michael Jackson and his brothers was one of the best moments of my life!"

    Recently, Kathy was chosen to play Billie Holiday in an upcoming one-woman show entitled The Brighter Side of Day. It is an off Broadway play that should be in production come Spring. And when she was passed a beautiful gardenia to place in her hair, everyone believed Kathy was going to sing a Billie Holiday song. But she had a surprise up her sleeve: With a change in Kathy's posture and considerable drop in her tone, Billie Holiday was reincarnated on the spot. It was bone-chilling and goosebump inducing.  Utterly amazing. Who would have thought?

    As the audience members were working off their bewilderment, the intro to Earth Wind & Fire's "September" began and the ladies took us through a medley of up-tempo grooves, including Cheryl Lynn's "Got To Be Real" and The Emotions' "Best Of My Love." While the songs selected were great, the covers unfortunately came across as more of a karaoke session.  It was a tad disappointing to hear so many cover tracks, rather than Sister Sledge classics. We missed out on "Easier To Love" and "One More Time." Nonetheless, it was great to hear Kathy Sledge's voice is as strong as ever.

    We were steadily approaching the end of the show, knowing full well the anticipation for "We Are Family" was coming to a fevered pitch. It was sung with the flare and enthusiasm that only Kathy could bring.  The audience was on its feet singing, clapping and rocking in unison to the ladies on stage.  

    The art of the encore has clearly been lost, for as the band said goodnight, patrons were already walking to the exit. A band member asked if we wanted more and the response gained the remaining concert attendees an encore of the Chic classic "Le Freak."

    Despite the sometimes Broadway-ish forays, abundant cover tracks and seated venue, everyone left the venue humming Sister Sledge tunes with a Cheshire grin on their face, content and satisfied.

    By Ann Marie Collymore
    SoulTracks Video Editor