Bettye LaVette’s a live wire of a singer, rarely letting up on the intensity and feeling that she pours into her music. I’ve had the honor to interview her twice (Read my story last week for Pioneer Press here.) And now I’ve had the privilege of seeing her in concert twice. The last time was at the Old Town School of Folk Music in 2006, and this time (Friday night, Dec. 7) it was at that great little club out in Berwyn, FitzGerald’s. The only disappointment was that Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers, who played on and co-produced her new record, didn’t swing out to Berwyn to join her during the show, despite the fact that he was in the city for a gig earlier in the night at the Empty Bottle. Oh, well. It was a great show anyway, with passionate renditions of songs off her two most recent albums and a few oldies. At a few moments, when the music got quiet, you could hear the usual chatter of people talking over by the bar, but when the band left the stage and LaVette began singing her amazing a cappella version of Sinead O’Connor’s “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got,” you could have heard a pin drop in the place. With that stunning song — she almost looked ready to collapse from the emotion of it — LaVette exited stage right and it would have been anti-climatic for her to do anything more.
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