Dancing in the Shadows of Motown Twin Towns 6th January 2024
About 20 years ago, a documentary film revealed a story of the Funk Brothers, the Detroit version of the “L.A. Wrecking Crew”. They were basically the uncredited, resident studio house-band that Motown used. They played on almost every artist’s songs. They were tight and in-sync from jamming at the night clubs- thus perfecting their craft. But largely overshadowed by the persona of the artists they recorded for.
And what of the singers that backed those hits?
When Karen Carpenter sang in 1973 “Yesterday Once More”: Every Sha-la-la-la, Every Wo-o-wo-o, Still shines, Every shing-a-ling-a-ling that they’re startin’ to sing’s, so fine, – she was directly reminiscing about Motown’s wonderful backing singers.
In 2017 a new Australian production emerged, paying tribute to these optimistic joy-filled singers and the iconic songs of the 60’s and 70’s – with a respectful nod to the title of the 2002 film.
“Dancing in the Shadows of Motown” now brings to the front stage, what was originally hidden at the side where those old RCA black and white TV cameras couldn’t reach. Those elusive shadows of fame.
There are not many venues as classy, friendly and accessible as Twin Towns on the east coast of Australia. The Showroom and Team are star-makers on their own.
Last Saturday night finally arrived. The hand-picked band for Dancing in the Shadows of Motown for a third night in a row, let rip. Seasoned industry-respected pros set the pace, and the race was on to get almost every possible song squeezed into the two sets. Like that wasn’t ever going to happen. Why? From 1961 to 1971, Motown was credited with 110 top ten hits, from artists that included Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell and The Four Tops.
The singers were astonishing coordinated and synergised, but not in any way robotically slick. There’s a huge difference between the clubs of Detroit and the rooms of Las Vegas. They were smiling from the start – at the audience and deeply with each other. Some real lovin’ soul was happening in front of those mics. Having met them in the Green Room behind the stage – their demeanour was genuine. And the audience picked up on it. Audiences are unsurprisingly sensitive and are often looking for a 2-hour or more relationship.
Every minute was a Motown magic moment. Every muso poured their hearts into their soundcraft and remained faithful to the feel that these historic tunes demanded. You don’t mess with Motown music – it’s always deeper than the songs’ words and titles. Many of the songs on this Saturday night, were sung in the original key and beats per minute, for example “Stop in the Name of Love”, and “Can’t Hurry Love”. (If ever there was a tune where the opening drum intro gave the song title away – it was that one.)
These singers. OMG. If needed, each could do the entire show, on their own. No drama. However, the sum of the parts is always greater than the whole. Better than you’d expect from just individual parts, because it’s the way they combined their Soul which added a different far-reaching quality.
And frankly this fun, uplifting and positive performance from “Dancing in the Shadows of Motown” – 25 of Motown’s greatest songs, was wildly authentic and truly entertaining. Faultless actually. Signed Sealed and beautifully Delivered.www.twintowns.com.au
Reviewed by 101FM Radio Presenter Stu Robertson www.101fm.com.au
Photography by Michelle Cop (MC Photography)