Popping my tribute act cherry
The Magic of Motown, is one of the world's biggest tribute shows, but can the great pretenders really dazzle at the Theatre Royal Windsor?
I’m going to put it out there, I’m, not a big fan of tribute acts – they always have a whiff of stale beer and sticky carpets. Then I was told to see The Magic of Motown and to keep an open mind. After all, this ain’t no ordinary tribute, this is an “explosive concert experience” seen by over one million people worldwide.
To my surprise it was less Stars In Your Eyes and more Motown night on The X Factor with a peppering of Dream Girls. The two-hour concert is fronted by seven singers – three women and four men with seven talented musicians – in a sea of sequins shimmying to the greatest hits of Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, Smokey Robinson, Jackson 5 and Diana Ross. Brace yourself, it goes like the clappers, covering 40 songs in 120 minutes, multiple costume changes and smooth dance moves. I’m exhausted after belting out one tuneless hot in the shower. These guys deserve R.E.S.P.E.C.T just for showbiz stamina.
The Diana Ross medley in the first half should have been a showstopper, particularly when you’re belting out Chain Reaction, but techy issues took some of the dazzle away from it that even singer Mica’s foxy sequinned dress couldn’t distract from. The four fellas, had more energy than a spaniel puppy, but brought great tone to their harmonies and a flawless performance.
I’m not sure what happened in the interval. I suspect a few wines were knocked back, because the conservative audience, were up on their feet in the second half. Bang out The Four Tops’ Loco In Acapulco and Stevie Wonder’s Sign, Sealed, Delivered and the beasts were unleashed. Pull the Jackson 5 finale out of your top drawer and the Windsor’s Theatre Royal went absolutely nuts for Blame It On The Boogie and I Want You Back. Arms were waving and bottoms jiggling everywhere. I’ve never seen anything quite like it on a Monday night.
The production can feel a little clumsy at times. Dance steps out of sync and a Stevie Wonder impersonation in which singer Dre appears on stage in a dreadlock wig and dark glasses spoils an otherwise great performance. But the vocal performances are undeniably great. They all have superb style, tone and technique. If you love Motown music, this is a buzzy show that’ll leave you tapping your toes in the first half, and shaking your bottoms and boobies by the end of the second.
The Magic of Motown, Theatre Royal Windsor, now – Sat 20 Oct.