Four Tops/ Temptations September 8, 2007
By Glen Creason
No staid rehash of the gems of yesteryear, the concert by the Temptations at the Performing Arts Center on Saturday was a rousing, joyful romp through some of the greatest popular music of the old Twentieth Century. Half of this marvelous two hour plus of R&B gold was brought to vibrant life by the current cast of Temps which includes one original in Otis Williams and four quite talented and experienced cohorts Terry Weeks, Joe Herndon, Ron Tyson and powerhouse lead man Bruce “Big Sexy” Williamson. These Temptations attacked the repertoire with a high voltage harmony and choreography that was truly an art form in itself. Resplendent in iridescent platinum suits the group worked very hard to put an electrical charge into great old stuff like “How Sweet It Is to Be Loved by You,” “The Way You Do The Things You Do,” “Aint Too Proud to Beg,” “I Wish It Would Rain,” and “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.” With Herndon’s rumbling bass and Tyson’s sweet tenor holding down the edges the rest was up to the mid-trio lead by newcomer Bruce Williamson who would have stole the show except for the fact that this music is made for five very good singers and dancers. Williamson is a big man with lots of personal charisma but his versatile, super-strong voice elevated the show way above mere tribute to the Temps.
By the midway point the shiny suits were stained with sweat as the hard-working quintet kept the energy surging like the power plant outside of Las Vegas and got the big crowd to its feet repeatedly for dance music the way it should be played. This included “I Can’t Get Next to You,” “Get Ready,” “Stay,” “I’m Losing You,” “Since I Lost My Baby” and the lyrical genius of “The Girls Alright With Me” that moved some few hundred men in the audience to sing for their significant others. It actually sounded not too bad. There was some surprising songs too including the lushly romantic turns of “Darling I Love You” and “You Are Necessary in My Life” often heard at weddings in the time of rice-peltings. Of course, the adoring audience waited most of the night to hear one of the greatest tunes ever and the Temps did a fine version of “My Girl” that crackled over the wires of memory back to 1965 like a thunderbolt. When these Temptations finished the packed house begged for more and were thrilled to get it with gravy on it.
The show was opened by the no-less legendary Four Tops who also sported an original in the ever-stylish Duke Fakir. The Duke is supported by a stalwart trio including the son of original Lawrence Payton Jr., veteran Ronny McNeir, and lead singer Theo Peoples. These Tops worked hard and enjoyed the great songs along with the fantastic backdrop of a soul orchestra lead by George Moncrief, including a full horn section extraordinaire. The set list read like a trip down the Motown song hall of fame. “Baby I Need Your Lovin’,” “Bernadette,” “It’s the Same Old Song,” “Aint No Woman Like the One I Got,” “Shake Me,” and a red hot “When She Was My Girl” that got the booties shaking up out of their seats. There were unusual choices including “In the Still of the Night” “Just Walk Away Rene” and the rather melodramatic, overwrought “Always and Forever” but a finishing medley of “Reach Out,” “Standing in the Shadows of Love,” and the classic “I Can’t Help Myself” left the crowd in a very good Motown place.