With a line up of The Jacksons, Kool & The Gang, The Pointer Sisters, Village People, Sister Sledge and the Sounds of the Supremes the Summer Series event was sure to please a diverse group of music fans. When I saw the line up I was keen to see this concert when it was announced only for Sydney but lucky for Adelaide 70s disco and funk fans the show came to our city at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.
Now before going to a show like this you need to fast forward yourself thirty years because things have changed and the bands or groups are not going to have all original members. So, I was mentally prepared before I stepped into the arena. I went to see, hear and dance. And that’s pretty much what kind of a night I had!
First up was the Sounds of the Supremes. These ladies had the look of the 60s with glittery costumes, energy and fun warming up the crowd and giving us an enthusiastic set with all the Supreme favourites like Stop in the Name of Love, You Can’t Hurry Love and my personal favourite Baby Love.
Sister Sledge are the ultimate professionals and they delivered on their famous hits with energy and trade mark dance moves of the 70s. They did a medley of the disco favourites Everybody Dance, All American Girls, Frankie and Greatest Dancer with a little help with funky dance moves from one of the Sledge’s son, David. Making it a real family affair with another Sledge son Danny singing the energy charged Isley Brother’s hit Shout.
I came to see them perform my favourite Sister Sledge song and they didn’t disappoint. Singing with voices of soul and slow swaying dance moves they launched into Thinking of You which after interviewing her a few months earlier is also a favourite of Kim Sledge. I was quite excited to find we had that in common! Finishing the set with Lost in Music and the 70s classic We Are Family. The crowd erupted from the distinctive first note played and were pretty much on their feet dancing and singing along to the whole song.
Next came the Village People. One by one they came on stage dancing to funky music then beginning their set with Macho Man. They powered through as best they could with their most popular hits like San Francisco, Go West, Hollywood and In The Navy. While lead singer Victor Willis left the stage he let the rest of the group sing the catchy anthem Can’t Stop The Music. There was lots of muscle on stage but it lacked that magical spark that you remembered of the Village People. Finishing on a high they sang YMCA and the crowd once again got up on their feet to dance and sing along.
One of the surprises for me on the night was The Pointer Sisters. Well it’s more one Pointer Sister, a Pointer daughter and a Pointer grand-daughter. Talk about WOW! What lacked in sisters was made up for it in the extended family members. From the moment they hit the stage the energy was electric. Starting with their hits of Happiness and He’s So Shy where Pointer daughter Issa yells out “I aint shy!” Well no you aint! And the audience loved it.
When it came time to the most energised hit of I’m So Excited the excitement level certainly went up quite a few notches and the crowd went wild. The Beverly Hills Cop number of Neutron Dance had pretty much the same effect. The Pointer granddaughter Sadako was a musical fireball and who could ever imagine singing and dancing with such energy with their grandmother? Well she can and does. It was so much fun to watch. Ruth Pointer was stunning also singing on point and still having that Pointer Sister magic. They finished their set with the electrifying hit Jump which by this stage the crowd didn’t have to get up and dance as they were already up dancing all the way through the Pointer Sisters set.
My earliest memories of Kool & The Gang is their hit Fresh and this was one song I was looking forward to hearing. When they took the stage, it was a funk filled set that was high energy and full of life. Starting with Tonight while making me wait a bit longer to sing my favourite song Fresh I was finally taken back to being an excited little school girl! They asked “Are there any fresh ladies in the house?” Ummm…”Yes I’m here!!!”
The Gang were on fire with the horn section. The coordinated dance moves were slick and funky. There was old skool jamming movin’ and groovin’ in time with each other and the music. Trumpeter Michael Ray showing us that age is no barrier throwing in cartwheels whenever he could and dancing all night long with a level of fitness putting people like me to shame. Original member Ronald “Khalis” Bell gave us a mean saxophone solo making it known he’s still got it!
Kool and the Gang took us back to the 70s with hits like Jungle Boogie, Hollywood Swinging, Ladies Night then morphing into the funky Get Down On It and ending with the peoples favourite Celebration. Oonce again bringing the crowd back up on their feet dancing and singing loud and proud.
The group everyone was waiting for finally hit the stage and the crowd seemed to come alive once again. With a large screen showing images of The Jacksons (and Michael) throughout the years of their illustrious career we were starting our sentimental Jackson journey through visuals. Once on stage the crowd we were whipped into a frenzy as they slowly took off their sunglasses and went straight to the big hit Can You Feel It. I think it was safe to say we all felt it. The crowd were happy and it was the beginning of the screaming.
They played all the great Jackson and Michael Jackson hits like Blame it on the Boogie, Rock With You, Enjoy Yourself, Show You the Way to Go, Lovely One and then the hits that first brought the Jacksons to our attention like I Want You Back, ABC and Dancing Machine. They also gave us a slower soulful version of the hit Never Can Say Goodbye as well as I’ll Be There, Can’t Let Her get Away, Heartbreak Hotel, Wanna Be Startin’ Something, Shake Your Body (To the Ground).
This was my first time seeing The Jacksons and I didn’t have any other performance to compare it to and I felt that they knew how to command an audience. You could see why they were so successful in their day. The only down side was the sound and at times their vocals were drowned out by the music. It must have been a production issue as it happened to all the artists.
You can’t go past and not state the obvious which is there was no Michael and yes you can tell and it definitely shows but The Jacksons are a well-polished group and while you can see age has caught up with them and their vocals at times it didn’t put a dampener on the show. They still put all their heart and soul into the performance especially Marlon Jackson who in my opinion stole the show with his funky dance moves and stronger vocals. They danced, they entertained, they made you feel the love and most importantly they gave you a little bit of magic. You can still feel the legacy that is The Jacksons which is really all you need to enjoy the show.
Live Review by Anastasia Lambis