Irma Thomas, a veteran of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, belted out the danceable soul, R&B and gospel in her mid-afternoon show at the Acura Stage with a big 10-piece band.
Thomas’ four-piece horn section didn’t just play Thomas’ signature songs and solos. They danced choreographed moves with the lady known as the Soul Queen of New Orleans.
As for her own singing and dancing, Thomas’ on-stage energy and vocal authority seemed little diminished by the passing decades.
“I’d like to sing a song that got me into this business,” she told the crowd. “It’s older than most of you.”
Indeed, Thomas’ debut single, “You Can Have My Husband but Please (Don’t Mess With My Man),” was released 54 years ago this spring. Nonetheless, she unleashed the song’s “Yeah, yeah, yeah! Yeah, yeah, yeah! Ah, yeah! Ah, yeah!” with commanding volume and impact.
Of course, Thomas also sang the beautiful Allen Toussaint ballad “It’s Raining,” featuring the tick-tock rhythm that counts down the lonely hours. “I’ve got blues so bad,” Thomas sang, “I can hardly catch my breath.”
Following Thomas’ second-line segment tradition, she pulled her white handkerchief out for a medley of “Sing It” and “Iko Iko.”
“Now,” she instructed the audience, many were probably from out of town, “the proper way to do this is to wave your handkerchiefs and umbrellas and towels in the air and put you backfield in motion.”