DVD review: ARETHA FRANKLIN – The Legendary Concertgebouw Concert 1968

ARETHA FRANKLIN - The Legendary Concertgebouw Concert 1968

Wienerworld [Release date: 28.07.14]

One has to wonder at the justification of a full price DVD release – unique footage, or no – when the running time is only 42 minutes, including an interview.

At the peak of her powers in the US with five #1′s and three Grammys since signing with Atlantic in 1966, Aretha landed in Europe for the first and only time in April 1968.  This long lost footage captures the second of two sold out dates in the Netherlands under the billing of Aretha Franklin & The Sweet Inspirations.

The grainy restored footage, does however capture the hysteria, and madness of the circus show that surrounded touring in those days.  Constantly hustled and bustled the young Aretha – still only 26 – draws heavily on a cigarette before the show, hemmed in by her entourage, promoters and stage hands.  It’s pandemonium, and as she hits the stage she’s showered, quite literally, with a sea of flowers.

Looking tired and with sweat streaming down her make-up in the steamy atmosphere she launches into ‘Satisfaction’ and you’re instantly transported back 46 years in time to an era when social and musical change was rife.  It’s heady stuff and her ground-breaking vocal prowess on numbers such as ‘A Natural Woman’, ‘I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)’, ‘Chain Of Fools’ and ‘Respect’ is quite something to behold.

It wasn’t labelled ‘sweet soul music’ for no reason.  This is certainly sweet, but sadly short.  ***

Review by Pete Whalley

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