Gladys Knight/Kool & the Gang in Concert
Saturday, August 9, 2014
Songs performed: Fresh, Tonight, Misled, Too Hot, Funky Stuff, Jungle Boogie, Hollywood Swingin’, Cherish, Ladies’ Night, Get Down On It, Celebration (Kool & the Gang); Hard to Say I’m Sorry, Now That We Found Love/You Should Be Dancing, When I Was Your Man/If I Were Your Woman, The Way We Were, Love Overboard, Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye), I’ve Got to Use My Imagination, The Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me, Midnight Train to Georgia, The End of the Road, Happy, I Heard It Through the Grapevine (Gladys Knight)
Comments: Two veteran R&B acts headlined the world-famous Hollywood Bowl last weekend for a fantastic evening of music and memories. First up was Kool & the Gang. Originally formed in 1964 as the Jazziacs in Jersey City, New Jersey. They have sold over 70 million albums worldwide. During their heyday with lead singer James “JT” Taylor, they racked up hit after hit. James is no longer in the group, but he has been replaced by 3 capable singers including one who rapped on “Celebration.” The crowd really started to get into it with the 70’s funk songs: “Funky Stuff,” “Jungle Boogie” and “Hollywood Swingin.” One of the trumpet players came out with a wrestling mask on (during his solo), and even did a cartwheel too.
During “Cherish” there was a sea of cell phones waving in the air. After that song, the crowd stayed on their feet, and danced and sang along to such dance classics as “Ladies’ Night,” “Get Down on It” and “Celebration.”
Next up was the legendary Gladys Knight. She first came to fame back on Motown recording as Gladys Knight and the Pips. At 70 years old, she came out by herself at the beginning (after a Michael Jackson song had played over the speakers). She looked great and proceeded to give the crowd fantastic vocal performances on her own hits plus some choice cover songs. She has definitely taken very good care of herself and her instrument.
During her set, she covered soft rock, pop, R&B, gospel, dance and more. She is one of those singers who can basically sing anything. And she shows no sign of slowing down. She covered songs made famous by Chicago (Hard to Say I’m Sorry), Boyz II Men (The End of the Road), Barbra Streisand (The Way We Were) and the Bee Gees (You Should Be Dancing). I loved how she put together Bruno Mars “When I Was Your Man” (sung by one of her backup singers) with her own “If I Were Your Woman.” That was a very smart thing to do.
During “You Should Be Dancing” she was joined by 4 ballroom dancers from “Dancing with the Stars.” Gladys was a contestant on the show in 2012. Tristan MacManus was her partner on the show. He was the lead dancer tonight and he had an extended dance routine with Gladys during the instrumental break.
I first saw Gladys back in 1988 with the Pips. I loved her, but didn’t like the Pips. They took up too much of the show… with bad skits/impressions. She has since toured on her own. But she did bring back Bubba Knight, a.k.a. Pip #1 for one song. He came out and sang Pharrell Williams’ hit “Happy” with Gladys providing back-up for him. The crowd really loved it and was dancing along.
It was refreshing to see a true performer. One who knows the power of her instrument and how to work a crowd — no studio trickery involved. Today’s pop stars should be taking some cues. She has been fortunate to have some great songs written for her, and she expressed her gratitude for them.
Many thanks to all the performers for a great night of music.
KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Speedos lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.