Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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Temptations, Four Tops & Tavares: O2, LONDON 27/9/16

Temptations: O2, London 27/9/16 @bluesandsoul.com
Temptations: O2, London 27/9/16 @bluesandsoul.com Four Tops: O2, London 27/9/16 @bluesandsoul.com Tavares: O2, London 27/9/16 @bluesandsoul.com Temptations: O2, London 27/9/16 @bluesandsoul.com Temptations: O2, London 27/9/16 @bluesandsoul.com Temptations: O2, London 27/9/16 @bluesandsoul.com Temptations: O2, London 27/9/16 @bluesandsoul.com Temptations: O2, London 27/9/16 @bluesandsoul.com Temptations: O2, London 27/9/16 @bluesandsoul.com Four Tops: O2, London 27/9/16 @bluesandsoul.com Four Tops: O2, London 27/9/16 @bluesandsoul.com Four Tops: O2, London 27/9/16 @bluesandsoul.com Four Tops: O2, London 27/9/16 @bluesandsoul.com Four Tops: O2, London 27/9/16 @bluesandsoul.com Tavares: O2, London 27/9/16 @bluesandsoul.com Tavares: O2, London 27/9/16 @bluesandsoul.com Tavares: O2, London 27/9/16 @bluesandsoul.com Tavares: O2, London 27/9/16 @bluesandsoul.com Tavares: O2, London 27/9/16 @bluesandsoul.com

Responsible for some of the best-known hits from possibly the best-known record label in history, a joint headline tour by The Four Tops and The Temptations was always going to be a big event.

And with support from Tavares, who themselves know how to produce a hit, it was little surprise that the O2 Arena in London - a daunting venue to try and fill - was packed with those looking forward to a night of Motown.

Of course, just two of the voices which made the records so unique were present, with each of the main acts having just one surviving member apiece.

Over the years each line-up has evolved multiple times, The Temptations, for example, having had 25 members in the nearly six decades since they were founded in Detroit.

Otis Williams, now 75, is the elder statesman of the group, as is Abdul 'Duke' Fakir for the Tops.

It was to prove a whistle-stop evening of the group's hits.

A high-energy set by Tavares had the O2 crowd on their feet from the off.

The brothers opened with “It Only Takes a Minute” and proceeded to tear through hits including “Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel” and “More Than A Woman”.

The set was short but effective, each brother exuding charm and filling the arena with their unique sound.

They had barely left the stage when The Four Tops bounded on, commencing with “Baby I Need Your Loving” and then launching into a high-octane version of “Bernadette”.

Each time they perform these days, their shows are dedicated to the memory of founding members Levi Stubbs, Renalto 'Obie' Benson and Lawrence Payton.

With his warm and relaxed manner Fakir, now 80, quips to the rest of the crowd of his band members: “Be nice to them, they're new”.

The line-up may have evolved, but the new band - completed by Ronnie McNeir, Lawrence Payton and Harold 'Spike' Bonhart - do a sterling job of keeping the music alive.

It is testament to their ability to engross the audience that their set seems to fly by, as they get the crowd dancing with “It's The Same Old Song”, “Reach Out I'll be There” and “I Can't Help Myself”.

Such is the back catalogue at their disposal, they could play all night on their own.

But that would deny the crowd the chance to see The Temptations, one of the most prolific of all the classic Motown acts.

Having boasted singers including David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks - among many, many others - over the years, it is fair to say expectation levels are high.

The O2 can be an unforgiving venue if harmonies are not as they should be.

Thankfully though, there were no such worries for The Temptations, whose energetic dance moves showed they are well drilled.

“Get Ready” and “Two Girls with Trouble” started the set, with lead Larry Briggs displaying a vocal range that made him a worthy successor to the greats that went before.

Less than a week earlier, he required a CT scan after falling off the stage in Manchester, but to watch him perform, no one in the audience would have suspected the drama he had gone through.

“Papa Was A Rolling Stone”, “I Wish It Would Rain”, “Just My Imagination” followed, before the set closed with a stunning version of “My Girl”.

As with any group with such a long history, it would have been tough to decide which hits to leave out, but despite the relative shortness of the sets, each managed to ensure the audience left happy.

The energy and excitement of Motown, so evident on the records, still translates well to the stage, with both veteran acts well worth watching.

PHOTOS: DAVE BURKE
Words Dave Burke

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