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Four things we loved about Bettye LaVette at World Cafe Live

Bettye LaVette performs live at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia
Photograph: Chris Sikich

Bow down: Legendary soul singer Bettye LaVette, now 72, graced the stage of World Cafe Live on Thursday night. Her rich voice and commanding presence stirred the local crowd to numerous standing ovations and a kind of reverence given to few performers. Here are some photos and highlights from the night.

1.LaVette sang Dylan

Bettye LaVette live at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia

The show focused on LaVette’s brilliant interpretations of Bob Dylan songs found on her just released Things Have Changed. Not every choice is obvious and LaVette frequently commented on how surprised she was with the emotional textures found in Dylan’s catalog. “Emotionally Yours” was powerful and “It Ain’t Me Babe” sounded glorious in this interpretation. The soul was very apparent in “Do Right to Me Baby (Do Unto Others).” “Don’t want to judge nobody, don’t want to be judged” began this powerful tune that rang through the downstairs room of World Cafe Live with a graceful power.

2. Essential listen? “Things Have Changed.”

Bettye LaVette live at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia

The album’s title track is a showcase for LaVette’s vocal range and her interpretative skills. She breathes a whole new life into it, switching it up to be about her falling in love with every man she sees. The proclamation that “people are crazy and times are strange” rings as true as ever, especially with LaVette’s stunning delivery.

3. Blues and soul is alive and well, folks.

Bettye LaVette live at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia

Playing with a four-piece and standing behind a music stand holding papers full of verses, LaVette’s performance was a stunning display of blues and soul. At the age of 72 she is still comfortable whether she’s stalking the stage or owning the center stool. Reflective on her lengthy career and calling out producers and others who have helped her along the way that were in the audience, she showed immense gratitude for those who have helped her get where she is now. And the crowd, with its rapturous response, showed her that all the hard work has truly paid off.

4. She may tease, but we can expect more from LaVette

Bettye LaVette live at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia

One of the night’s highlights came during the end of the main set, when she sang “Going, Going, Gone.” Walking to the edge of the stage, LaVette sang about the end of the road. “I’m going/ I’m going/ I’m gone.” With that she exited into darkness. The crowd applause was uproarious, giving one the feeling that, with this type of support, LaVette won’t be throwing in the towel anytime soon. She still has a lot more to offer the world of music.

Bettye LaVette live at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia
Bettye LaVette live at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia
Bettye LaVette live at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia
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