13 November 2010
Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas, NV
Another visit to the Colosseum. And, while I've passed on Celine Dion and, for the time being, Cher, I have, for a long time, been intrigued by Diana Ross, both as a Supreme and as a soloist.
Prior to the main act, her colleague George Wallace pushed back 20 minutes with a piece of his comedy routine, after which he invited the 4000+ Colosseum patrons over to the Flamingo hotel showroom he was also performing at (not that his showroom has 4000+ capacity, but.....)
Without hardly any delay, Diana walked out in front of her 12-piece band, which included brass- and vocal-sections. Dressed in a black-and-sequin-themed dress covered by a green, feathery cape, one of 5 wardrobe sets she displayed during her show, she came out and opened with the same song she opened her multi-million selling hit LP Diana with, "I'm Coming Out".
Inspired by six very talented on-stage dancers, many in the audience enjoyed dancing to most of her up-tempo tunes during the evening, including the former Spiral Staircase bubbly hit "More Today Than Yesterday" that she recently resurrected.
Ross paid a nice tribute to her former band, The Supremes, with a mini-set of several of their classics, including, "My World Is Empty Without You", "Where Did Our Love Go", "Baby Love", "Stop In The Name Of Love", "You Can't Hurry Love", "Love Child", and most notably "Reflections" which accompanied a very nice video dedication to her former bandmates, which I found especially tasteful and graceful, given how difficult their relationship has been over the last 4 decades.
The memories continued with her performance of her other major solo hits, including "Upside Down", "Touch Me In The Morning", "Do You Know Where You're Going To? (Theme From Mahogany)", and "Why Do Fools Fall In Love". No "It's My Turn".
Historians will remember that, during the recording of Diana in 1979, producers left the project because many of her vocal takes sounded flat. When given the opportunity to record new takes, the album turned into a gem. This has been a general characteristic throughout her career--her natural tendency is to sing slightly below pitch, but when she pays close attention and disciplines herself, her voice sounds as wonderful as a human being can hear. Several times during this evening's show, her voice sounded flat, especially during times when she seemed distracted by other on-stage happenings.
"Ain't No Mountain High Enough" was even stronger and more emotional than her #1 solo hit version from 1971. Any performer who can sell a million records with a three-note hook, just on the strength of her voice, is unquestionably deserving of the decades of accolades she's received.
In another dose of 1970s nostalgia, Diana delivered a strong vocal for "I Will Survive".
In her encore, she performed a medley that included "Missing You", her tribute to the late Marvin Gaye. This time her tribute turned to the obvious choice, the late Micheal Jackson, whom the mammoth-sized video screen portrayed throughout her inspired performance.
Diana Ross is a classy act that proves difficult to follow, leaving the audience very satisfied.
[****] - Steven T.
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