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Powerful women, artists who have inspired and entertained generations, proved why they still matter, when they took over Saturday at the Kirjurinluoto Concert Park at Pori Jazz Festival in Pori, one of the most beautiful cities in the west coast.
The sun beamed from the cloudless sky. Wine corks were popped, beer cans were cracked. But the day, or the festival for that matter, was not about the high consumption of booze. It was about music, friends and picnic. Folding chairs and blankets occupied the park lawn, which rose uphill, thus providing a great view for 25,000 spectators on Saturday over the festival arena and the main stage.
American soul diva Erykah Badu, 46, opened the evening to a tightly packed crowd in front of the stage. She was 35 minutes late from the beginning of her show, but the audience didn’t seem to care until she decided to leave some of her best songs out from her set. Instead, she performed overlong, slow and sometimes weird versions of her less popular songs.
Her voice, rhythm and timing proved to belong among the greats, but for some reason, instead of providing the main course at the Royal Restaurants she served the spectators beans and rice – leaving them hungry for more.
The same can’t be said of her older counterpart Chaka Khan, 64, the godmother of R&B and soul. She started on time with a band of incredibly skilled professionals. Khan cooed with girlish sweetness, went raw and raspy in the middle and performed the high notes, exact and pure. The band’s sound was crisp and clear, it was if the sound manager had been waiting for the chance of his lifetime.
Early in her set, she performed “Do You Love What You Feel.” A popular soul-disco song from 1979, which Khan used to sing as the lead singer of funk band, Rufus.
I wanna dance
I wanna dance all night
The crowd seemed to follow Khan’s orders.
Another Rufus classic was to follow: “You Got The Love.” The catchy bass melody made your shoulders shake.
You got the love
You give me the strength
To keep on living
“I’m A Woman (I’m A Backbone)” kept the crowd enjoying and swaying.
During “Everlasting Love” Khan invited Badu to sing a duet with her. At times, the women seemed to compete in who could sing higher, longer and stronger. But this was not a competition. It was a sign of respect and a bridge between the generations. This was easily Badu’s best song of the day.
Chaka finished her set with “Ain’t Nobody,” the funky, funky song with the hypnotizing keyboard and synth melody, arguably the best song of her career.
Loves me better
The song ended in insane drum and guitar solos, topping each other harmoniously. This was the definite high point of the day, the most colorful rockets in the musical fireworks of another successful year in the history of the festival.