Patti Labelle Puts On A Crazy Show

8.21.2009

By Noah Michelson

Photo: Getty Images

Patti Labelle took to the stage of the Hollywood Bowl Wednesday night for a particularly odd show. She did a fair number of the hits and signature songs (“New Attitude”; “If You Asked Me To” -- “Don’t get it twisted,” she told us, Celine Dion had the hit, but Patti did it first!; “On My Own”; “If Only You Knew”) but she seemed unprepared for the autumn-like L.A. weather that’s cooled the city the past few weeks.

She was wearing an enormous gold bathrobe-like dress and huge gold diva earrings that I think she wore to last year’s Out 100 celebration. She even had a ring that would do Paula Abdul proud. But she fretted throughout the show about the cold. So, first she got a Middle Eastern-tinged quilted wrap for her neck. Then she got some black gloves for her hands. Then she actually went off stage and returned wearing… black pants? A black wrap around her legs? She then proceeded to allow her backup singers the spotlight to such a degree one had to wonder why she wasn’t singing herself. At one point, she was singing backup for a backup singer! After passing her own microphone to her! Was she being particularly generous? Or could she not handle doing a full show? Is she ill? Is it her age? Is that why she’s so cold?

Then, when it came to her two most iconic songs, things got weirder. She sang a few words to “Lady Marmalade,” then asked men from the audience -- who could sing -- to join her on stage. So two men did, yet neither of them were singers. They probably don’t even do karaoke. One basically stood there and took photos with his phone. Regardless, they warbled a few words, then when they headed back to their seats, Patti said, “You guys can’t sing.” Then: “Actually, I’m the one who can’t sing tonight.” And then she moved on to something else without ever even performing the song! And midway through her big showstopper, “Over the Rainbow,” she forgot the words! When she hit the notes, she hit them out of the ballpark, but she didn’t swing for the bleachers as often as you’d expect. Good things for us, the tickets were free…

-- HARKER JONES

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Tags: Popnography
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