The Queen of Soul Conquers Europe: Aretha Franklin in Amsterdam, 1968

In May of 1968 Aretha Franklin was at the top of her form. It was only a year since she had switched record companies and exploded into fame with a string of top-ten hits that have since become classics. Her third album with Atlantic Records, Lady Soul, had just come out and Franklin was on her first-ever tour of Europe. On the second night she performed at Amsterdam’s historic Concertgebouw, or “concert building,” and fortunately for us a camera crew was there to record the show.

The resulting 42-minute film is a remarkable document of one of pop music’s most important artists performing in her prime before a wildly enthusiastic audience. The film opens with an awkward backstage interview, but the real excitement begins at the 6:30 mark, when Franklin and her backing singers hit the stage to thunderous applause and launch into an rhythm and blues arrangement of the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction.” The audience rushes the stage and begins pelting Franklin and the other singers with flowers. The musicians manage to finish the song, but before the concert can continue the master of ceremonies has to come back out and demand that everyone take their seats. Here’s the set list:

  1. Satisfaction
  2. Don’t Let Me Lose This Dream
  3. Soul Serenade
  4. Groovin’
  5. A Natural Woman
  6. Come Back Baby
  7. Dr. Feelgood
  8. Since You’ve Been Gone (Sweet, Sweet Baby)
  9. Good To Me As I Am To You
  10. I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)
  11. Chain of Fools
  12. Respect

Although the concert was billed as “Aretha Franklin with the Sweet Inspirations,” Franklin’s backing singers in the film are her sister Carolyn Franklin, Charnissa Jones and Wyline Ivey. It’s a fast-moving, energetic performance. Franklin’s voice is strong and beautiful, straight through to the triumphant show-closer, “Respect.”


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