Adelaide Festival Centre in association with Mario Maiolo presents
AN EVENING WITH DARLENE LOVE
Festival Theatre. Adelaide Festival Centre. June 20 2014
Reviewed by Peter Wilkins
Adelaide, you are one lucky city! Adelaide Cabaret Festival Artistic Director, Kate Ceberano, has secured a coup in bringing living legend Darlene Love to perform a one night only concert in the Festival Theatre. It’s no surprise that she should walk on to the stage and be greeted by a full house of adoring fans. Her sparkling dress is matched by an even more sparkling smile which stays with her and lights up the theatre throughout the one hour concert. Backed by an orchestra under the direction of musical director, Michael Jacobson the irrepressible Miss Love launches full on into The Crystal’s number of He’s Sure The Boy by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. It’s an echo of the past filling the theatre with the sounds of Phil Spector’s wall of sound hit factory. Fifty years of song give power to the lady’s voice, a voice that can tug at the heartstrings or give vent to the sheer force of life. We are in the presence of a star.
“I don’t do excerpts” she says as she announces her Marvin Gaye medley. “I do the full song.” It is a mark of respect to a dear departed friend as well as her audience and her towering talent. Backed by the twelve piece orchestra and her vocal backing group of four singers under the direction of Milton Vann, Love takes us on a journey through the classics that have been the shining milestones in her long and illustrious career. For half a century, Love has been the darling of the music industry, as backing support for people like Elvis Presley, Cher, Tom Jones, Aretha Franklin and Bruce Springsteen and as a member of The Crystals and Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, as a member of The Crystals and as a solo artist in her own right.
Nobody sings Roberta Flack like Darlene Love. In her second medley for the night, there is such soul in her voice as she gives her rendition of Killing Me Softly With His Smile, joined by Vann. With a voice as matured as a well cellared wine, Love makes a cover her own and fills the song with love. Pop, Gospel, Soul or Rock, they are all the triumphs of a career that has seen her work with the most remarkable singers and musicians of the last sixty years, culminating in her induction into the Hall of Fame and the garnering of an Oscar for her autobiographical documentary, 20 Feet from Stardom. For the audience at this concert, Darlene Love was dead centre in the heart of stardom. They bopped along to Da Doo Ron Ron, clapped to the beat of Mountain High – River Deep and swayed in their seats or tapped their feet to such classics as He’s A Fine Boy or He’s A Rebel.
As she launched into the Tina Turner number Mountain High – River Deep (“Phil Spector promised it to me!”) she brought the audience to their feet. There was little need for encouragement as this enduring singing sensation brought her concert to a close. Then almost as quickly as it had begun, the show was over and it was left to Michael Jacobson to announce that “Darlene Love has left the building”, but with a promise from her to return.
For those lucky enough to be at this brilliant evening of song from one of the all-time greats, it can’t come soon enough.