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POP MUSIC REVIEW : Irma Thomas Makes Local Debut

February 15, 1988|DON WALLER

When a singer makes a stage entrance walking through the crowd belting out "Dancing in the Streets" with all the effort normally associated with, oh, window shopping, it's safe to say you're in for a pretty fair evening's worth of entertainment. So it was when Irma Thomas made her local debut at Club Lingerie over the weekend.

Truthfully, it was better than that. A lot better. Tightly backed by her own septet, the 47-year-old vocalist more than lived up to her rep as the "Soul Queen of New Orleans."

Her Saturday night show encompassed everything from soul standards to traditional N'Awlins tunes to contemporary R & B and pop to a handful of her minor hits from a 29-year recording career.

Thomas has never been a flamboyant singer. What she does have is a brandy-like warmth of tone, marvelous control, impeccable phrasing, an intimate vibrato and the ability to color everything she sings in shades of misty blue.

Curiously, she didn't perform the song she's best known for: "Time Is on My Side," later made famous by the Rolling Stones.

But then, any time a performer can get a clubful of people waving their handkerchiefs and dancin' the second line like it was Mardi Gras day on Canal Street, ain't nobody asking for their money back.

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