Teena Marie: Live Last Night
Teena Marie hasn't lost any of her attitude or octaves. Or fans. At a crowded and raucous Constitution Hall on Friday, she brought back the heyday of pop-funk.
(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)
Rick James began mentoring Marie (born Mary Christine Brockert) in the late 1970s after she was signed to Motown, helping to create the Lady T persona and producing her first album. His approval helped the white singer get embraced by even the hardest-core funkophile.
She went on to become Motown's most successful white act, but remains aware she's a rare breed in the R&B realm: "Welcome to Chocolate City, and I'm its little itty bitty Vanilla Suburb!" she yelled.
Marie also acknowledged an eternal debt to James, who died in 2004. "I'm not just representing myself anymore," she said. "I'm representing R.J., too!"
The fans got out their seats and dusted off their smoothest old-school moves as she retrieved a pair of songs James wrote while launching her career: "I'm a Sucker for Your Love" and "Deja Vu." During the latter, Marie showcased her own vintage dance steps, doing deep squats while cutting loose with shrieks long and loud enough to drop jaws, and to remind folks that no soul belter, even Patti LaBelle even in her prime, could out-shriek Teena Marie.
For "Portuguese Love," a early-'80s hit that Marie wrote, the singer took off her coat to reveal a lot of skin, some of which was covered up by a tattoo that made her whole back look like the stained glass window of a large cathedral.
Marie brought out her 17-year old daughter, whose stage name is Rose Le Beau, for a duet of one of her recent singles, "Can't Last a Day Without You." It's no insult to say the kid's got a long way to go before she should share a stage with momma.
The heat peaked when Marie reprised 1981's "Square Biz" and melded her biggest single, 1984's "Lovergirl," with Parliament's "P. Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up)." Fans who probably hadn't rushed a stage in years charged to the front.
-- DAVE MCKENNA
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