Sunday, March 16, 2008

Last Knight, We Were All Pips

Ahhhh, life was wonderful on Saturday night, for one of the truly great women of soul graced the Circle City with her talents. That's right, Gladys Knight performed a mix of her own works, old school soul, and timeless standards, backed by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

Your humble blogger splurged on the expensive tickets and landed himself in the eighth row, stage right, so he was able to witness way up close a truly classy and funny lady put on a show well worth the price.

Her voice has withstood the test of time, sounding as good or even better than the recordings she did some 40 years ago. Her presence was simultaneously graceful and down-to-earth. She's got rhythm that I could never hope to match, and you could tell she put her heart into the performance. She was having fun, at one point losing her composure to laughter as she was bantering with one of the backup singers.

The only thing I would have asked her to add would have been for her to sing "If I were Your Woman".

The orchestra would have done justice to the lush string accompaniment.

Although she was backed up by a very talented young trio of singers, she made several references to the Pips, who backed her up back in the day. The funniest surprise was when her brother, and onetime Pip, Merald (Bubba) Knight, made an appearance on stage. In the video clip above, Merald is the tall one in the back.

He said he was taking Gladys on an offer she made him when she went solo back in the 80s, that he could come sing with her whenever he wanted to. After some additional clowning around that had the audience busting a gut, he bust some moves of his own and kicked into a mean rendition of "Love and Happiness".

The show closed with her signature song, "Midnight Train to Georgia", where she encouraged the crowd to sing along. It was a wonderful sound to hear such a mix of ages and backgrounds singing the backup parts, complete with the "pull-the-cord" motion and "woo-woo".

The audience, myself included, loved her show, giving her three or four standing ovations over the course of the performance.

I knew it was a long shot, but I had kind of hoped she might dig up a really obscure number and perform the song "Way Back Home". It was recorded by Junior Walker in the early 70s, a cover of an instrumental originally done by the Jazz Crusaders. Knight herself gets joint credit for the lyrics. Later on, the tune would be recycled with new lyrics by B.B. King, released as the song "Take it Home."

Good stuff.
blog comments powered by Disqus