Four Tops and the Temptations May 23, 2009
By Glen Creason
The answer to every ailment in society nowadays is “bad economy” and you could see it in effect over the weekend at Cerritos. Not that folks did not pack the place and spend their hard earned cash but they saved some dough and travel by performing a little stay-cation right here in Cerritos. Instead of traveling to Vegas for one of those big splashy, high voltage shows they just drove over to Center drive and got one here with no dazzle held back. The genre was R&B in the Motown style which was delivered with passion and certainly experience. On the docket were two of the biggest names from the era of driving beats, funky lyrics and lots of African-American style known by those of a certain vintage as the Tops and the Temps. The Four Tops and the Temptations have a legacy to protect and they make sure they are not giving their fans a wan rehash when they perform. On this night both groups gave it all they had and certainly pleased the faithful who stood frequently and once in a while actually clapped in time to the old favorites. To be fair, they participated pretty well and even sang verses when they were not even asked to do so.
The Four Tops still have an original in Duke Fakir and some veterans along with Lawrence Payton Jr. who is second generation Tops. They played, as did the Temps in front of a full orchestra that included a knockout, eight man horn section. No need to experiment here and they did not but just played what they were bid to do by the talking back crowd, including “Baby I Need Your Loving,” “Bernadette,” It’s the Same Old Song,” “Reach Out,” “Standing in the Shadows of Love,” and the gold-plated classic “I Can’t Help Myself” known by zillions as “Sugar Pie Honey Bunch.” There were lots more music and playful kidding from members but even the ballads did not resonate like the stuff we used to hear on KGFJ back in the day.
The Temptations were all that and more. They also had an original in Otis Williams and an act that has sparkled for almost fifty years. Why fix it if it aint broke and the crisp choreography, energetic singing and wonderful songs are pretty good on their own but these guys are way better than just true to the spirit. They work hard and the songs sound fresh and powerful with the sweat up on stage plenty real from gents who have sung these songs hundreds of times. Part of the success is certainly the young powerhouse Bruce “Big Sexy” Williamson who is a sort of Department of Water and Power dynamo all on his own. Yet, all the members were marvelous singing and dancing with some all-time great songs 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,” “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” “Get Ready,” “Since I Lost My Baby,” “The Girls Alright With Me” and the one they will be tapping their feet to in the year four thousand “My Girl” that had every man woman and child singing along at the end.