For festivals & outdoor shows
There is always a risk of being disappointed when going to see nostalgia tours like this one, in my experience the biggest problem is that the band members are so old that their vocal ability is shot to pieces and they are just doing it because they refuse to give up on the fact that their days as a famous musician are long gone.
Thankfully this Motown show with The Four Tops, The Temptations, The Platters and Freda Payne is an exception to the rule. Admittedly some of the artistes are of an elderly age, there is no denying that. However, there have been many changes in the line up for these bands which have given them a much needed injection of vitality. The only artiste on the bill who is still the complete original is Freda Payne.
Freda was the opening act for this show. Any concerns that fans may have had regarding her vocal ability at her age were quickly laid to rest due to her phenomenal range as she ploughed through songs such as 'Deeper and Deeper', 'Bring the Boys Home' and of course the immortal 'Band of Gold'. It was a pity that Freda only had time to fit in six songs due to being the opening act. However she can hold her head up high safe in the knowledge that vocally she is still one of Motowns finest.
Due to the stage being set un in such a way that the talented backing musicians were already onstage it meant that the next group could walk straight on without any breaks, so no sooner had Freda finished her set, the Platters were straight on with their performance.
The Platters demonstrated that even though there isn't an original member in the line up, the magic and vocal harmonies can still live on through younger and equally talented musicians. Yes I'm sure the purists out there will argue that it's not really the Platters if there aren't any original members, but for me, if the vocal harmonies are hitting the spot then where is the problem? The Platters seemed to enjoy being upon stage and sharing some Motown nostalgia with the audience. They performed their choreographed routines and vocal harmonies throughout hits such as 'Smoke Gets In Your Eyes' and 'Remember When' certainly hit the spot. They even squeezed in a new track entitled 'It's My Time' which even though written many years later and by non original members still managed to keep the Motown vibe with the unique Platters touch.
Throughout this tour the Four Tops and The Temptations have alternated who headlines each night, this evening it was The Temptations turn to headline, so before they arrived, it was time for the Four Tops, who in my humble opinion did for Motown what Torvill and Dean did for ice skating. The audience gave The Four Tops a warm welcome as they arrived on stage wearing a sparkly red suit jacket and black shirt and trousers, a classic Motown look. 'Loco in Acapulco' was played early on in the set and from there it was a barrage of classic Motown hits 'It's the Same Old Song', 'Bernadette', 'Reach Out I'll Be There', 'Standing in the Shadows Of Love', and 'I Can't Help Myself (Sugarpie Honey Bunch)'.
The only original member of the Four Tops Abdul 'Duke' Fakir shared some anecdotal stories about the bets that used to take place between The Four Tops and Motown founder Berry Gordy inbetween songs, including a story about how they couldn't put the Left Banke song "Walk Away Renee" into the Top 10. Naturally that linked nicely into their version of 'Walk Away Renee'.
The Temptations arrived on stage wearing matching black suits with white shirts; the microphones were all lined up in a row, just like in the late 60s. They have also kept their choreographed dance routines just like it was back in Motowns golden era. Again through fate there is only one original member of the band - Otis 'Big Daddy' Williams, who seems to be very agile for a man of his age. Despite the lack of original members, they were able to sound just like the original Temptations, and even today with the current line up, songs such as 'My Girl', 'Get Ready' and 'Just My Imagination' all still sound as energetic and magical as they did when they were first released all of those years ago.
Bruce 'Bass Voice' Williamson even managed to make every woman swoon has he belted out 'Treat her like a Lady' with his impressive baritone harmonies.
Unlike other shows, these bands were able to bring the magic of Motown back to life, and even though you could argue and say these are just tribute bands due to the lack of original members, the fact remains that in the present day these are as close you are going to get to reviving the Motown magic, if you are a fan of this type of music then you will walk away being impressed and feeling that it was money well spent.