The Temptations, Four Tops Bring Back Motown MagicBy James Beale
September 12, 2010
As I sat down in the second row to see The Temptations and The Four Tops, the man next to me was checking his phone. He had a Lamb of God wallpaper, which made me question his motives for coming. Was he dragged here? My question was answered only halfway through The Four Tops' section of the concert when we were both singing along joyously to "Baby I Need Your Loving."
Both groups provided exactly what I expected, but not much more. They played their hits, sounded well enough and danced a little. It was nice to see a glimmer of what the groups once were.
Multiple times the show was stopped to pay tribute to the deceased members of both groups. In past interviews, both living original members, Abdul "Duke" Fakir of The Four Tops and Otis Williams of The Temptations, had said that this reincarnation of the bands is not attempting to duplicate the original lineups, and that's a good thing.
It's unfair to attempt to compare the past and current acts, and sufficient respect was paid towards the members who paved the way.
Respect was also given in great helpings toward Fakir and Williams. Fakir, in particular, sang solo on a rendition of "My Way," which he sang as "Our Way." His voice got much stronger as the song went on, eventually climaxing in the final bars and eliciting a standing ovation.
Otis Williams didn't have quite the same opportunity, but The Temptations were much more balanced. All of their members contributed and sang prominently in songs, whereas for The Four Tops were dominated by the lead vocals of Theo Peoples.
Fakir jokingly told Peoples after a solo performance of "I Believe In You And Me," "We're going to lose you to a church." On the whole, the harmonies were in tune, although they were not like the originals.
It was inspiring to see Fakir and Williams still catching every beat with the younger members of the band. There was a nice moment midway through a Four Tops song where Fakir coughed while singing and Peoples stopped and asked him if he was OK before they both continued. It was clear that the camaraderie was not lost on both bands.
The Four Tops' section definitely seemed slower than The Temptations, partially because of song selection, but more so because The Temptations danced much more. They added more energy into the crowd and seemed to engage with the music.
Part of this energy spilled over into the crowd. Midway through The Four Tops' setlist, people old and young began to spill into the pit to dance. By the end of their set, the pit was full, and some were relegated to dancing in the aisle for the entirety of The Temptations.
Some in the crowd were students when these singles first came out, and some were teenagers, but it didn't matter - both sang and danced together to these memorable songs.
That, perhaps, was the best part of the concert. There were no big surprises musically, but the lasting impact of the Motown sound was clear.