*Music legend Oleta Adams took the stage just after 7pm for the first of her two Yoshi’s shows, with “It’s Alright With Me,” the lead track to her exceptional new album, Third Set. Her voice is still an absolute wonder, albeit a bit rawer than that of decades ago, but timeworn, battle-scared, wise.
Adams tore into her performance with a ferocity of a woman who perhaps thought she had something to prove. It almost felt as if she questioned whether she could still thrill a crowd as she had decades ago with her breakout hit “Get Here.”
She could. And she did.
Other highlights of the show included searing versions of Frank Sinatra’s “Only The Lonely,” Joni Mitchell’s “Don’t Interrupt The Sorrow” and “River,” and Nina Simone’s “Do I Move You,” all from her new Third Set collection.
“To be quite frank, I struggled with [recording] that one because I’m on the brink of being an old lady, and I just keep hoping that even though I’m not quite as subtle as I used to be, people can still feel the soul of my music,” Adams had confided with me by phone, before the show.
We could. And we did.
We could not only feel Adams’ soul — we were collectively moved by it. On “Do I Move You,” Adams and her efficient three-piece band transformed Yoshi’s into a blues club of old, with the entire audience participating in the song’s call-and-response as Adams played piano and her glorious contralto rang out with breathless abandon.
She drew laughs every time she belted the line “When I touch you, do you quiver / From the top of your head to your liver?” It was a question that Adams could have asked us the entire show.
And our answer would have been an unequivocal, unanimous “Hell, yes!”
Just minutes after that risqué romp, Adams took us to church with one of Third Set‘s pair of gospel tunes, “Wilted Roses,” and two of her signature hits, the aforementioned “Get Here” and “Rhythm Of Life.”
At one point during the show, Adams emphasized the acoustic nature of the night’s performance. “This is live! It ain’t Memorex,” she implored, as if anyone had questioned that for a second.
In this age of auto tuned less-than-wonders, it was refreshing to experience one of the industry’s true talents, with a voice that, as hard as it was for me to believe, has only gotten better with the passage of time.
Information on Oleta Adams’ upcoming tour dates, and on her new Third Set album, is available at oletaadams.com.
Click here to read our feature on Oleta Adams, including her reflections on the new album.