The Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls NY was the place to be last Saturday if you grew up in the 70’s. The fabulous Chaka Khan brought her distinct singing style and rhythmic soul sounds to the Events Center stage. Some of the best dance and soul music of the era was on tap that night as Khan and her powerful vocals put on a two hour show of hits. Chaka Khan was the lead singer of Rufus, an early 70’s funk group out of Chicago. Early success with songs written by Stevie Wonder and Ray Parker Jr. led to a massive following and four gold and two platinum albums. Khan soon struck out on her own and was just as successful until the early 80’s.
The Event Center was packed with some fans even standing in the rear of the room. The buzz in the air was getting louder as the 8pm start time approached. Many fans were decked out in their club-going attire as the anticipation of a big party hung in the air. Shortly after 8pm, the first notes of “Do You Love What You Feel” saw Khan stroll on stage carrying a small fan to cool herself. The band revved up and the magical voice of Chaka Khan filled the air. The crowd responded with a sing-a-long to every note. Many guests rose to their feet and danced and sang along. Khan was very appreciative as some fans brought gifts that included flowers and a painted (Khan) portrait to the stage.
The evening took on that electric feeling when you know you are in the presence of something special. Khan did not disappoint and responded with a string of hits that kept the crowd on their feet. The Stevie Wonder penned hit “Tell Me Something Good” was up next with “You Got The Love” following and Khan could do no wrong. Even at 64 years old, she commands her voice and stage presence with a youthful exuberance not lost on her fans, many of whom called her name between songs. Shouts of “I love you Chaka!” were as frequent as the applause between songs. Khan was responding to individual callers as if they were long, lost friends.
The flow continued with “Whatcha Gonna Do For Me” and the Prince hit tune “I Feel 4 U” as the crowd broke into full on dance mode. A slowdown of sorts came with a three song mix of “Love Me Still,” “Through The Fire” and “Sweet Thing” as Khan showed she can sing any song with a sweet blend of power and emotion. A quick break saw the band stretch out with the classic “A Night In Tunisia” and each member took an extended solo. Khan returned for the quiet “My Funny Valentine” and “Superlife” before ending the show with the megahit “I’m Every Woman” which brought the crowd to their feet again.
An encore of “Ain’t Nobody” brought the biggest cheers from the hot and now sweaty crowd. Chaka Khan left the stage to a thunderous thank you from a loyal crowd that will not soon forget this night. It’s rare to see an artist hold the high talent level at this stage of her career. Let’s hope she finds her way back this way soon.