Etta James in Concert
At the House of Blues, Anaheim
September 17, 2006


Well, this is one for the history books.
Good concert too.

J.C. Mašek III
The World's Greatest Critic!

I'd like to dedicate this review to the amazingly talented bartending staff of the Downtown Disney Tortilla Joe's Mexican Restaurant, the kind, considerate and forgiving Security Staff of the House of Blues Anaheim (not to mention their janitor), whomever decided to put water in bottles, that Disneyland-visiting family whom we disturbed at the local Denny's at Umpteen AM, and last, but not Least, Mister Ibuprofen.

"Hey, wanna go see Etta James this Sunday?", Michelle asked.

"Sure, sounds great! Wanna get Margaritas and Talk before the show?", I responded.

In hindsight, her idea was much, much better than mine, but there was no way for me to know that then. Oh, wait, yeah, there was: VIRTUALLY EVERY OTHER CONCERT REVIEW ON THIS SITE!!! Sigh.


See, the plan was to show up early and boggart some of the best (read... ONLY) seats in the house. That was a good idea. That idea was intended to be the proverbial unstoppable force, however, when met with the unmovable object known as Tequila, the idea... and pretty much every good idea we had... was proven unquestionably stoppable. Ah, my head still throbs. You know, it turns out that it's a hell of a lot cooler to write funny reviews about being incredibly drunk when you're actually kidding (mostly). I both pride and curse myself for the ability to remember everything, even when I'm drunk.

Especially when I'm drunk.

At the beginning of the evening we were discussing the LSAT and Music and Military Service. By the end of the night, I was calling the bus boys, the waiters, the bartenders and the manager by name (at the top of my lungs), speaking in thorough Iambic Pentameter (Middle English, no less) and discussing things (and people) that I'm sure neither one of us would want repeated on a website with this readership. Hey, our friends and families read this thing, I can't afford Lawyers, folks!

I also remember tipping something like three hundred percent. Which is probably why I didn't get thrown out. Of THAT place, that is.

After one of the most friendly friskings I've ever received (by the security guys, Michelle was a perfect lady... and has better taste), we more floated than walked up the stairs in a light, lime green mist. I was speaking in fourteen-line, couplet rich, rhyming paragraphs, Michelle was saying things like "Stop talking like that, idiot!"

But, hey, we'd have been on a natural high, (if we weren't already on a blue agave tequilana weber plant high) simply because we were going to see Etta again. Hell, the last time I saw her (three years ago) she blew me away. This night, a strong SNEEZE could've blown me away. Taking point on the stairs (hey, at least it rhymed with chairs) next to the control booth (where I apparently paid a guy who was NOT a waiter to go get us Red Bulls... which Michelle hated), Michelle and I enjoyed the opening act, primarily an instrumental collaboration by members of Etta James' backing group known as "The Roots Band"! This was a hell of a highlight for Etta's lead guitarist, who was a master of that walking BLUESY fret board. The guy's leads were amazing, taking the place of vocals quite well. It's noteworthy that Etta's band still rocks without her, but you ain't heard nothin' yet.

Then there was the break in the set. My hair was incredible, hanging down in feature-obscuring locks, making me look like ol' Dave from Megadeth from that "No More Mister Nice Guy" video? Remember that? No? Look, folks I don't live on THE BLUES alone, you know. Speaking of remembering (and speaking of speaking), I remember Michelle took this opportunity to tell me how great my wife was and how much my wife loves me. Kind of her to notice, natch, but gravity, and Tequila were pulling my head to the ground, as if strapped to diving weights. I nodded and shook for my part of the conversation, probably looking either overcome with emotion or depressed or both. Actually, I was about to perform a unique thing I called TARGETLESS PROJECTILE VOMITING.

I excused myself (she would thank me later), and promptly delivered about thirty dollars worth of Nachos and Booze on the well-waxed House of Blues lobby floor. Naturally (and logically) I was tossed out like a Jar-Jar impersonator at a Star Wars convention. It wasn't so bad, though, one of the guys did come out to keep me company by berating me and my entire genealogy (but, hey, I guess that was his job). The black beans, the green ethanol, the... the sawdust... The instant humiliation-spawned sobriety. Yeah, yeah, yeah, my more intellectual readers are sitting here going "What happened to the high-minded comedy? What's funny about Vomiting?" The answer is so simple... NOTHING!!!

Security didn't think so either. Right about this time, as I brushed my Guess jacket off, pulled my hair into something that vaguely resembled a nest less and tried to look almost as cool as Eddie Deezan, I walked back into the now-smelly lobby. I had a perfect vantage point to the stage from my dunce-cap seat. I saw Etta James walk out onto the stage, truly betraying her age with that incredible voice. She sounded incredible. If Etta's a musical dinosaur at 68, then she must've become a Half-A-Saurus within the last three years. Man, Gastric Bypass has done wonders for this lady! Oh, she still had the chair, but she was so much thinner, man. Amazing. Then, Security closed the door. Aw, dudes!

About that time, Michelle called my cell to see what was taking me so long in the bathroom. That was humiliating enough. Having Captain Security Man accosting me just after said phone call and saying "YOU CANNOT BE IN OUR VENUE, SIR!", was ten times as humiliating as that. Man, not even a 300% tip was going to please this stone face. So, I did what any macho, macho, macho man might do. I begged. I begged like a President before General Zod, man! I offered him money, the opportunity to see me on my knees (but, you know, not in "that" way), even the chance to give me a black eye. Then he asked me what was so important, and I said that I couldn't abandon my friend. That truth either struck him as very honorable or very pathetic, but regardless, he let me back in, just like that Jar Jar impersonator, now in full-on Palpatine Regalia.

Damn, I feel just like Abesacrabin!

In spite of my incredible ability to slam dunk some of the most obscure of the obscure references in the world, I just couldn't bring myself to tell Michelle what happened. Oh, she'll laugh herself silly later, but back to Etta. Etta RULES. She brought us through some of the great Etta classics, and took a few covers over her knee and spanked them but good as well. Having begun with ol' Muddy's "I Just Wanna Make Love To You", Etta also rocked us with one of the best versions of ol' Janis' "Piece of my Heart" (to which both "The L Word" and I screamed out the lyrics) and ol' Lady Day's "Stormy Weather".

Having the words "I LOVE THIS WOMAN!" replacing every gap in music, the thrills just kept on coming with MAXIMUM R&B, Straight Blues and Rock classics like "Sugar on the Floor", "Damn Your Eyes", "Tell Mama", "Leave Your Hat On" and, at the risk of sounding like a K-TEL Records Commercial, Many, Many More, right up until, at last, Etta and the gang of TEN on stage, played "At Last!"

L was very happy, but was made even happier after the show, when I sweet-talked one of Etta's staff into getting Michelle an autograph. Yeah, I rule. But then, get this, I went to thank the one security guard who was kind enough to hold the "Hell No" velvet rope while the other security guard let my dumb ass back in. So, I still had to go thank the other guy, the guy who did the, uh, the "lettin'". While I was offering my most sincere thanks, and assuring this guy that his trust wasn't misplaced, Michelle was getting all the gruesome details from Security dude number one. Nothing like walking back in, self assured and triumphant to the lobby and hearing "DUDE, you PUKED?"

Yeah, yeah, I did.

Then came the laughter. Then the walk of shame down the steps. More than twelve steps, by the way.

But thanks, anyway, guys. Not like I deserved it. I mean, I did tell all of the HOB Security to "find the tallest building they can and take a flying fuck at the moon without a parachute" in my Laser Spectacular Review. Uh... Sorry, bout that, dudes.

Anyway, believe it or not, this was pretty much only the beginning of the adventures that night. I won't be recounting it all here, but profanity, public clothes-changing, 24 hour breakfast joints, Lesbian Sci-Fi Romance Novels, at least one cab ride and a long walk all may, or may not figure prominently into the story. If you ask me real nice, I'll make something up. After all, it has little but memories to do with the concert, kiddos. The concert kicked ass, and is worthy of a full FOUR AND ONE HALF STARS out of Five. Yeah. Remember when my concert reviews were about the music with just a little bit of drinking and assing around involved? Those were the days. Eventually, I'll just go for broke and tell an entire raunchy story about some idiotic and self-humiliating night spent at my expense and mention, in some hidden paragraph, that someone was on stage and how many stars they get. Thirty-Two years old and having my midlife crisis. Does this mean I die at Sixty-Four? Will you still need me, will you still feed me then?

Let Etta Rock you!
Back to The Ever Lovin' Blue Eyed Reviews Page!!!

Etta James in Concert 9.17.6 Reviewed by J.C. Mašek III
who is responsible for his own reviews,
and for the fact that Alien Invaders avoid this planet!
No need to thank me!
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