Music fans came from all over to experience the sheer joy of a live performance by two R & B greats – the legendary Patti LaBelle and the ever-soulful, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly.
The singers wowed a standing-room-only crowd of hundreds on Friday night, April 30 at SunFest, West Palm Beach’s five-day waterfront music festival. The crowd stayed on its feet for nearly all of the four-hour show.
“It was one of the best,” said Theron Poteat, 45, a corrections supervisor who came from Fort Lauderdale. “I’ve seen that show (Maze) maybe six or seven times, and it never gets old. In fact, the older it gets, the better it gets,” he said.
Dressed in his usual all white pants and shirt and wearing his signature baseball cap, Frankie Beverly, at 63, is clearly aging gracefully, but still electrified the audience with one hit after another. The group performed crowd favorites such as “Happy Feelin’s,” “Running Away,” “We are One,” “Back In Stride,” and “Joy and Pain.”
“He’s one of those entertainers who — you can sing with him on every song,” said Poteat.
And the audience did just that! Couples and singles swayed to the music all night long. Shouts of, “Sing it Frankie!” could be heard throughout the show.
Audrey Soto, 37, of Boynton Beach, hardly actually sat in her front row seat. She stood grooving to the beat during the entire performance.
“I love everything about Maze,” she said, grinning in sheer joy.
After singing all of his classic hits, the group sang, “Before I Let Go,” and then exited the stage. But the audience wasn’t ready to let go, so the group encored with, “I Wanna Thank You.”
Beverly repeated over and over, “thank you Jesus,” then knelt down in a position of prayer, clearly overcome with emotion. Upon standing, he blew kisses, held his hands high in the air, and then took his final bow of the night — leaving screaming fans clearly satisfied.
But before Maze took the fans down memory lane, it was all about the incomparable Patti LaBelle! Dressed in a flowing colorful, tangerine, above-the-knee dress with gorgeous jewels, Ms. Patti stepped onto the stage belting “New Attitude.”
“How you doing West Palm Beach, Miami!” she shouted. Patti fans went wild.
“I saw her on American Bandstand! That’s how far we go back!” said 65-year old K.K. Marmon, who had front row seats. “I love her!”
The songstress slowed it down with ballads like, “If You Asked Me To,” “If Only You Knew,” and “On My Own,” which she sang with John Stanley. Then she picked up the pace with “Right Kinda Lover!”
Turning 66 years old on May 24, LaBelle and her well-toned legs strutted across the stage in 6-inch heels like someone half her age.
“She moves like she’s 40,” said Poteat.
At one point, the performer tossed the microphone stand clear across the stage!
After sharing the spotlight with a baby that she spotted in the audience, LaBelle went on to sing two heart wrenching ballads, “2 Steps Away,” and “You Saved My Life,” before breaking out with “Lady Marmalade.”
She asked for three men, “one black, one white, and one gay,” to join her on stage to sing and dance, giving fans one of the funniest moments of the night.
It wasn’t the most high- energy live performance LaBelle has ever given, and the songstress got hoarse about half way through the hour and a half set, but in the end, Patti fans loved it!
Photo by Carol Porter. Patti LaBelle