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Concert Reviews:
Fans Come And Get Memories From Diana Ross At Palace
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

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AUBURN HILLS – It was Martha & the Vandellas that sang “don’t forget the Motor City.” And few in the Motor City ever forget Diana Ross, who reminded the town Monday night of all the memories associated with her long reign as Motown’s supreme diva.

Unfortunately, Ross’ 85-minute show, before a paltry home town crowd of 7,653 at the Palace, was a case of the wrong show in the wrong place – which didn’t make it bad, just diluted. Ross has simply never really been an arena perform, not even in her heyday with the Supremes (and certainly not on the abortive 2000 Supremes “reunion” tour) and not now as a self-confessed “old diva.” Despite a series of outfits that exploded with sequins and chiffon, her strength is in the subtleties of her thin-but-clear vocals and her charm is in an ability to be (relatively) up close and personal, where her charisma has more impact.

The simple staging and modest, no-video production of Monday’s show was more suited to a theater or casino, where Ross has been playing some shows on her I Love You Tour. The sound system didn’t have quite enough oomph to fill the cavernous Palace, and the bottom-heavy mix robbed the performance of most of its dynamic.

The show itself was certainly a crowd-pleaser, particularly when Ross and her band – five musicians and two backup singers – lit into Supremes favorites such as “My World is Empty Without You,” “Where Did Our Love Go,” “Baby Love,” “Stop! In the Name of Love” and “Love Child.” She also worked through a choice selection of solo hits both upbeat (“I’m Coming Out,” “It’s My House,” “Upside Down” and “Ease on Down the Road” from “The Wiz”) and mellow (“Touch Me in the Morning,” “Love Hangover”).

With her father, Fred Ross, family members and other guests – Motown etiquette coach Maxine Powell and Detroit R&B star Kem – looking on, Ross also delivered a Motown-styled rendition of “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” and nicely sequed from a well-sung snippet of the “Mahogany” film them “Do You Know Where You’re Going To?” into the Supremes anthem “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”

Closing with Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” was a bit too obvious, however. Ross is one act who doesn’t need to sing anyone else’s song to make her point.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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