HOLLYWOOD, CA-Good as advertised. That’s about the best way to describe the performance Motown icon Smokey Robinson gave at the Hollywood Bowl on Friday, July 3. Fine wine gets better the older it gets. You might as well include Robinson into that equation. The man sounds just as good today as he did back during his Motown years.
By listening and watching Robinson perform on the eve of Independence Day was like sitting in your backyard, pulling up a lazy chair and reminiscing while good, old-fashioned love songs penetrate through your radio speakers.
Hearing and watching Robinson go Old School was like getting a breath of fresh air as he brought back the days of the Temptations and his former record label while pumping up the romance theme with his own chart-breaking hits.
As part of the Hollywood Bowl’s July Fourth Fireworks Spectacular and backed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic with conductor Sarah Hicks and his own stage band, Robinson invited the audience into his own poem session of love songs and romantic ballads that the world has come to know him for.
But the one thing about Robinson that is very hard to miss is the infectious positive energy that seems to engulfs his spirit and lifts the audience into a realm of trust and enjoyment.
After decades of pouring out hit and hit, it is very clear why so many are adoring of Robinson. When you think of Smokey Robinson, there are quite of few adjectives that you can come out. You think class, charm, seduction and romance. And the good looks don’t hurt. There is only one Smokey Robinson.
Robinson’s silky smooth voice still have the power to make female fans swoon. That high-pitched falsetto he unleashes with relative ease can mesmerize and hardened soul . The style. The picture of classiness define Robinson’s aura on the stage and off of it. The word charismatic take on a new meaning with Robinson, who looks and moves better than men half of his age.
Now, let’s get to the concert. Following the opening numbers by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Robinson blew the house down. When he crooned “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” a song he performed originally with the Miracles, Robinson gave us what we were thirsty for: good music. Good music lasts generations after generations.
The music that Robinson and Motown brought to the world still has a lasting imprint on today’s musical artists, which was illustrated at the recent BET Awards.
All of us over 40, we know the hits Robinson has bestowed on us. “Going to a Go-Go,” “I Second That Emotion,” “Tears of a Clown” and “Being With You” are just some of the examples of how we have come to know Robinson. Relating quiet-passion intimacy is Robinson’s best friend. It’s felt in his music. It is a code understood watching him perform.
Robinson brings it home when he belts out “Just to See Her” and “Ooo Baby Baby.” Released in 1965, “Ooo Baby Baby” is one of Robinson’s songs that have become a romantic staple. It certainly was a musical piece that the audience felt came through with genuine sincerity. That song also set the mood for the rest of the concert as Robinson went down into a more intimate setting with “Quiet Storm.”
For lovers and friends, you could not have asked for a more perfect outing than sitting in on a Smokey Robinson concert in the middle of the summer. Revving up the tempo a little bit, Robinson turned to singing a couple of Temptations hits he wrote, including “My Girl.”
The two songs that penetrated the most came near the end and at the end of the show. “The Tracks of My Tears,” one of the most powerful songs about love and pain, hit at the core of just about everyone in the audience as Robinson turned the song into a private invitation to the crowd of emotional hurt with a love pity-party.
When Smokey Robinson sung “Tracks of My Tears,” you didn’t just enjoy the man singing it, you felt the meaning and concept of what the song is all about. I was so moved myself that I almost broke down into tears. Everyone who has ever been in love before and broken up with that person you fell in love with knows what that feels like.
To end the concert, Robinson sent the audience home on a high note with ” Cruisin,” his massive global hit that brings sensual intimacy to driving on an open road. ON the road, off the road, “Cruisin” is a song especially made for lovers. And by the time Robinson reached the conclusion of “Cruisin,” just about everybody was in the mood to do plenty of that.