Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Knight to Remember

There was a time when going to concerts by female singers who only needed one name was all I lived for. But the older I get, the less I appreciate the spectacle, and the more I appreciate the simple beauty of a singer and her microphone. So on Friday, I took Michael for a bucket list night at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center to see the legendary Gladys Knight, on tour now with the O'Jays. 

Gladys is Michael's all-time favorite female vocalist -- she was dear to his late mother, so the affection and sentimental attachment runs deep -- so when Ms. Knight walked on stage at 8 o'clock sharp, it was like she was singing directly to us in our fourth-row center seats. (No zoom required on these pics.)

At 69, Gladys' voice is still a thing of beauty. And hearing the seven-time Grammy winner belt out the R&B soundtrack of our youth -- "Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me," "If I Were Your Woman," "I've Got to Use My Imagination," "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," "The Way We Were," "Midnight Train to Georgia" and "Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)," which brought the audience to its feet and tears to Gladys' eyes -- was one for the ages. And that Michael teared up too more than made up for the raping I took on StubHub.

The O'Jays, who I have loved since being introduced them on my mom's "Believe in Music" K-Tel album in 1972, had a tall order going on second. (The Empress of Soul insists on going on first -- woman's got to get to bed at a reasonable hour!)

 But with the enthusiasm and vocal range of men half their age, they kept the crowd smiling with their catalogue of hits -- "Backstabbers," "Love Train," "I Love Music," Use ta Be My Girl" -- even if we were all a little on edge wondering if leader Eddie Levert might drop dead of a heart attack at any moment up there! If you get the chance, don't miss this double bill. 

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