Festival Theatre, Fri Jun 20
Darlene Love is the once un-named voice of numerous thrown together studio girl groups known as The Crystals and The Blossoms. These young women recorded hit after hit with true classics such as Da Doo Ron Ron, The Boy I’m Going To Marry and He’s A Fine Boy, and Love sang them all with as much freshness and vibrancy as she did 50 years ago.
She was there for the birth of Phil Spector’s creative multi-tracking and worked extensively with the eccentric and aptly titled genius. Love amusingly divulged her reluctance to record He’s A Rebel with Spector, believing it to be an inadequate song, yet it went on to become a massive hit on the pop charts. Love carries musical history in her voice; that of pop music and of gospel. Generations past all the way back to Bessie Smith and Ma Baker can be heard as Love projects every note with passion, emotion and a deep sense of pride and honour. There are few performers still remaining from those times, and even fewer that are as fit and dedicated as Darlene Love.
Love’s backing band, consisting of some of Adelaide’s finest musicians, sadly took at least three songs to warm up and get their groove. Considering these individuals had the immense privilege to back one of the finest Motown singers in existence this lack of commitment was initially more than a little disappointing. However, with the help of Love’s guitarist and Musical Director, Mike Jacobson, they stepped up to mark, lifted their energy and started playing as one; and drove it home.
Commendations to the local backing singers who embraced direction and were clearly inspired by Love’s extraordinary vocal coach Milton Vann; Matt Noble, Charmaine Jones and Joanne – great job! Aside from their perfectly synchronised harmonies, the Four Tops/Temptations-style choreography really gave authenticity to the music.
Love’s material is extensive and timeless, and the 70-minute show was like listening to the soundtrack of the ‘60s. She presented whole song medleys of her good friends Marvin Gaye and Roberta Flack. Love mixed with music royalty because she is herself the high priestess; there are very few in her league.
Love is a performer from the old school, where excellence is the minimum standard. In the ilk of Tina Turner and Otis Redding she will give everything, and expect you to do the same. Adelaide was fortunate to witness an outstanding performance from one of the most soulful and joyous voices of the Motown sound. Brilliant!
by Jenna Bonavita