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At Last - The Etta James Story

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by Elizabeth Quinn (subscribe)
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At Last Etta James Comes to Melbourne's Arts Centre
etta James, At Last, Vika Bull, Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse Theatre

During her surprisingly (in view of her weight problems and addictions) long career, Etta James sang with the best in the biz: Gladys Knight, Diana Ross, Janis Joplin, Ike and Tina Turner to name but a few.

Bonnie Raitt once said James' voice could be "raucous and down one song, and then break your heart with her subtlety and finesse the next." Vika Bull's interpretation mirrored the imperfections and soaring heights of her heroine, a woman for whom she clearly has the greatest admiration.
Etta James, At Last, Vika Bull, Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse Theatre
Etta James

With the help of trumpet-player Tibor Gyapjas in his role as compere, Vika Bull told the tale of Etta James' career in song and story, delivered for the most part in her Australian accent with the odd bit of Etta-channelling interspersed.
Etta James, At Last, Vika Bull, Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse Theatre
Vika Bull as Etta James

The big band sound was produced by a seven piece backing band comprised of a consummate bunch of musicians led by musical director and keyboardist extraordinaire John McAll. A highlight for this reviewer was one of James' own compositions 'Roll With Me Henry', performed as a duet by Bull and trombonist Ben Gillespie, whose tall, pale frame did nothing for his Little Richard impersonation but whose fine vocals were a tribute to the Small One.
Etta James, At Last, Vika Bull, Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse Theatre
Vika Bull and Ben Gillespie

This show has been more than three years in the making and its Playhouse season is less than a week long, so there's no time to waste.
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Why? At Last tells the story of soul legend Etta James’ turbulent life and features some of her most beloved songs
When: Tuesday February 16 to Sunday February 21
Phone: 1300 182 183
Where: Playhouse Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne
Cost: $30 to $89
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