Courtesy, Saenger Theatre

The Four Tops and the Temptations Groovin' at the Saenger

13:00 January 21, 2023
By: Reine Dugas

The Temptations and the Four Tops grooved their way through the smooth performances they've been known and loved for this Friday to a packed house at the Saenger Theatre. A couple of keyboards, guitars, bass, and a horn section backed all of the singers to a big sound and a great time.

The Four Tops [Courtesy, The Saenger Theatre]

The Four Tops opened the night, entering the stage in chartreuse brocade jackets, gray slacks, and a cool attitude that is quintessentially theirs. They opened the set with their 1966 hit song, "Baby, I Need Your Loving."

Originally hailing from Detroit, the original Four Tops—Levi Stubbs, Abdul "Duke" Fakir, Renaldo "Obie" Benson, and Laurence Payton—sang for over four decades—from 1953 through 1997. Their iconic sound shaped the Motown style that set the world on fire in the Sixties, along with the Temptations and the Supremes. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990, the Four Tops have continued to perform tours. Today's Four Tops has Duke as the only original member. New Tops include Ronnie McNeir, Lawrence "Roquel" Payton Jr. (original member Lawrence Payton's son), and Alexander Morris.

The Four Tops [WYA staff]

As they crooned their way through fan favorites like "Bernadette," "Ain't No Woman Like the One I Got," and "Same Old Love Song," nostalgia hit the Saenger and the audience sang along. While Duke, who is 87, sang a songs and did some dance moves occasionally from the comfort of a chair, his charm and personality were not in short supply. Between songs, the four singers joked with one another and the audience--their affection for their fellow musicians and the music clearly evident.

At one point, the three Tops sauntered off stage, giving Duke the spotlight for a poignant solo. He sang "My Way," but changed the lyrics to "Our Way." The heartfelt song brought the crowd to their feet. After that, the Four Tops picked the energy up with a medley including "I'll be There" and "Standing in the Shadows of Love." Then they finished their last song, seemed about to leave, but signaled to the band for one more. The much anticipated hit would be their closing and as the bass kicked into the iconic opening line, they sang "Sugar Pie Honey Bunch"--the crowd singing every word along with them.

The Temptations took the stage next, and clad in classic black suits and white shirts, their smooth moves and even smoother voices sounded exactly like they did decades ago. They opened with the lively song, "Get Ready" and moved right into "The Girl's Alright with Me."

The Temptations [WYA Staff]

The group originally formed in the 1960's under the name, the Elgins. Founding members of the first group came from combining members of two rival Detroit vocal groups: Otis Williams, Elbridge "Al" Bryant, and Melvin Franklin of Otis Williams and the Distants joined forces with Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams of the Primes.

The Temptations had several hit songs with Motown Records in the 60s, 70s, and even into the 80s, with their song "Treat her Like a Lady." They are known for their psychedelic soul, slick choreography moves, and unique harmonies.

The Temptations [Courtesy, The Saenger Theatre]

Today, the Temptations are comprised of Terry Weeks, Ron Tyson, Tony Grant, Jawan Jackson, and original member, Otis Williams. Still on point, the group put on their iconic dance moves, spinning and sliding their way through songs. They performed classics like "Ain't Too Proud to Beg," "I Wish it Would Rain," "Just My imagination," and "Papa was a Rolling Stone," to name a few. Their harmonies were on point and they sound just like everyone remembered them.

They talked about their new album that came out last year, entitled Temptations 60, which includes a guest appearance by Smokey Robinson on it. It's a combination of old and new music--they performed a tune from it for the audience.

They continued the set, singing lots of favorites and had the audience singing along to almost every song. It was a fun night--one of great music, nostalgia, and joy. The Four Tops and the Temptations are on a nine-city tour through the end of May.

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