COSTA MESA, Calif. (News4usonline) – Smokey Robinson still has it. The Motown legend made his way down to the city of Costa Mesa and put on a dazzling show at the Orange County Fair. Robinson has been at this for a long time. He was first introduced to the world as a smooth balladeer as a member of the Miracles, which in turn became Smokey Robinson & The Miracles.
The most interesting thing about his stint with Motown was that Robinson was a super-skilled songwriter, producing hit records for artists like The Temptations (Get Ready, My Girl), Mary Wells (My Guy), The Jackson 5 (Who’s Loving You), and Marvin Gaye (I’ll be Doggone), among many others. It doesn’t matter if Robinson is singing or operating behind the scenes writing love songs, the man is a hit-making machine.
As much as a machine as Robinson is when it comes to making music, performing seems like a natural fit for the longtime crooner. Robinson showed this during his hour and a half live performance at the Pacific Amphitheatre on Friday, Aug. 12. The full house audience loved every single minute that Robinson was on stage.
Though the show ran a little bit behind (about 10 minutes), Robinson more than made up for the tardiness with all of his lyrical schmoozing throughout the performance. There are some immediate thoughts about the kind of performance that Robinson was able to come up with on a summer Southern California evening.
And they are all pretty positive. For one, as soon as he stepped foot on the stage, Robinson had the audience eating out of the palm of his hands.
The energy was so high inside the outdoor-based performance arena that you literally could feel the synergy and electricity in the building. It would stay that way throughout the duration of the concert as Robinson started off the show performing some of his early hits with the Miracles and later ventured into the time zone of the Motown hit factory.
Right off the bat, you knew that Robinson was on point with the way he was signing. For an artist who has done this performing thing for such a long time, Robinson sounded amazing. Even incredible. Sometimes when attending a live music concert one of the things people tend to look for or make judgments of an artist is the power of their vocal chops and their sustainability.
Usually, there is a letdown of sorts when the artist or talent fails to live up to those lofty standards. Robinson does not have that problem. From the start of the concert, Robinson gave the crowd their money’s worth and more with the depth of range in his singing voice. One of the most notable falsetto voices in the world, Robinson made it look easy as he went up and down octaves with the ease of penning a new love song.
Ok. Let’s get to it. Was it worth going to see this all-time musical great? You bet your house on it. It was stupendous seeing Robinson moving so gracefully across the stage with the energy of a guy half his age. On top of that, Robinson simply had the audience swooning with just about every lyric that came out of his mouth.
If we had to go through the rundown of hits that Robinson has created or has sung throughout his brilliant career, we would be writing about this until next week. That’s just how long his wonderful credits go. But we can make do with some of the songs he sang that had the crowd standing on their feet.
When he broke out with “Ooh Baby Baby,” you would have thought that was Robinson’s crowning song of the evening with the way everyone stood on their feet to give him a standing ovation.
This was just the start of the second batch of songs he popped off. This is an example of how into the concert the audience was. More importantly, the standing ovation to Robinson felt more like a celebratory salute to one of the greatest hitmakers in musical history. The best way to describe Robinson’s performance would be to use the trendy usage of the word slay. It would be somewhat accurate to estimate that Robinson slayed the crowd.
It’s been a while since this writer has seen a performer command the stage and the audience the way that Robinson was able to do. It’s good to have to hit records to be able to do this. Robinson had no issue rolling them out. Actually, he has too many hits to fit into one concert.
So, Robinson filled in the gap with as many of his greatest tunes to satisfy the concertgoers. He received his biggest applause when he performed “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” “Just to See Her,” “Tears of a Clown,” and “Tracks of My Tears.”
All these songs brought back a sense of nostalgia for yesterday and all the good memories that may have come from that time period. When Robinson sang “Tracks of My Tears.” you believed the anguish he felt as a jilted lover. As he eased into his plethora of hits, Robinson managed to deliver to the audience some Motown favorites, which delighted the crowd.
Saving the best for last, Robinson closed the show with the street anthem hit Crusin’ that seemed to bring everyone to their feet. The best part was that Robinson allowed the audience to join him in concluding the evening with a harmonic sing-a-along moment. It was a wonderful treat. Even better, it allowed Robinson to show off the classy gentleman’s mystique that engulfs the man and the legend.
Dennis has covered and written about politics, crime, social justice, sports, and entertainment. Dennis currently covers the NFL, MLB, NBA, NCAA, and Olympic sports. Dennis is the editor of News4usonline.com and serves as the publisher of the Compton Bulletin newspaper. He earned a journalism degree from Howard University.