LYNN – Talk about enthusiastic, rowdy crowds. Fans of Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Gladys Knight hooted, hollered and shouted their love for the singer throughout her 90-minute concert at a nearly sold-out Lynn Auditorium Sunday night.
Knight, 73, in turn, professed her eternal gratitude for the fans who have joined her on her “amazing” musical journey and supported her throughout a career that has thrived for some 60 years.
“Some of you all weren’t here when some of this music was made,” joked the Empress of Soul, early in the evening. Fact is, most of those in attendance were there when this incredible, soulful music was created by Knight with and without her harmony singers, the Pips.
This was a much different show than the one Knight put on at this very venue last fall. It was every bit as enjoyable, though she neglected to sing many of her best known songs, including “Love Overboard” and “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” (Knight and the Pips hit with the song a year before Marvin Gaye grabbed it).
A few things were the same: Knight looked great and her soulful voice — one minute smooth, the next showing real nitty gritty — remains strong and expressive. Backed by a tight five-piece band and three harmony singers, an overly chatty Knight earned loud applause and numerous standing ovations. It was a love fest from start (7:15 p.m.) to finish (8:45 p.m.).
This lady has lost nothing in the vocals department. About halfway through her slow, soulful singing on a cover of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” and Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make it Through the Night,” you’d have sworn that Gladys Knight is the greatest singer in the world. She very well might be.
A truncated run-through of Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” proved she was just as comfortable with new songs as the oldies but goodies. And, man, those oldies were special. Bluesy ballads “You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me,” “If I Were Your Woman” and “I’ve Got to Use My Imagination” were slow-burning gems. Knight and the three harmony vocalists wowed on early Pips song, the doo-wop flavored “Every Beat of My Heart,” and the classic “Midnight Train to Georgia.” They shined bright during a medley of gospel songs.
Romantic ballads dominated this concert. “The Way We Were,” the movie theme popularized by Barbra Streisand, was infused with soul and a bit of grit. “I Hope You Dance,” a chart-topper for country singer Lee Ann Womack, tugged at the heart. The crowd roared and leapt to its feet after a sincere “Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye).”
This was Knight of splendid music by the seven-time Grammy winner and her band.