Aretha Franklin at Oracle Arena


When Aretha Franklin sits at the piano, grown men break down and cry.

On Monday night, Aug. 10, at Oracle Arena in Oakland, the undisputed Queen of Soul played her first Bay Area show in nearly 40 years, and it was a momentous, emotional occasion for fans who never thought they would see her live again.

Backed by a dynamic band that included a 10-piece horn section, the 73-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee shimmered in a silver sequined gown, eyes closed, arms raised to the heavens as she worked her way through a career-spanning set that included R&B staples like “Think” and “Chain of Fools,” which after all these years still retain their urgency and soul.

Five years after Franklin was sidelined by a serious illness — the details of which were never publicly disclosed — she looked fighting fit. Her voice soared, warm and commanding with a hint of rasp, even through those negligible ’80s hits like “Jump to It” and “Freeway of Love.”

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