Attending The MoTown Afro Night concert featuring America’s all time finest Rhythm and Blues outfits, the Temptations and Manhattans last Friday, awoke my childhood moments, reminiscing the secondary school days of Record Nights.
That is when the afro hair and curls were cool as we mimicked the lyrics and in most instances dismally failing to get them correct except for the beat and rhythm that blended very well with natural footwork found mostly in black communities. Everything went near perfect this past Friday, had it not been for the poor sound quality and starting the show late, a matter which led to supporting acts like Refilwe Boloseng, Joe Nina and Cheek to Cheek subjected to a raw deal. Other than that I can say I was really enthralled.
Most impressive was when Tshepi, the local artist cum show organiser, performed with the Temptations, a song they recorded together. The black Americans were back at the ancestral Africa, as they doled out the lyrics in the Setswana language.
The Temptation opened their second appearance on stage with, ‘standing on top.’ The audience could not hold any longer when the Temptations followed with another greatest hit of all times ‘Treat her like a lady,’ a song composed by Ali- Ollie Woodson and Otis Williams. The crowd was lost in excitement durng the delivery of a medley featuring songs from their 2006 Reflection album, which was nominated for the Grammy awards for best Traditional R&B performance- with the track, ‘how sweet it is to be loved by you’ and ‘I’ll be around,’ from the 1972 Spinners album.
Peculiar with The Temptations is, they stick with their style of dancing, call it old fashioned or whatever, but to them it is an art, drilled whole heartedly and with impressive discipline. Having fully introduced themselves it was now time to jam, starting with the song ‘Glad you can be here,’ then followed with a track originally done by O’Jays –‘You’re my favourite person’ before doing yet another people’s favourite, ‘Soul to soul’ from their Special album released in 1989.
The last track was a song written by Norman Whitfield and Eddie Holland in the same album named ‘Ain’t too proud to beg,’ a very painful son of a man begging a girl not to dump him, also written by Whitfield and E Holland and recorded by the Temptations with David Ruffin on lead vocal, Eddie Kendrick’s, Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams, and Otis Williams on background vocals and instrumental accompaniment by the Funk Brothers. They closed the show with a 1965 track, ‘My girl,’ which still remains a hit today and as I was seating next to my girl, Mmapula, I could not love the moment more.
The Manhattans also did not disappoint. If it was a competition between the two, I guess the judges would have found it difficult to judge. The Manhattans performed 15 plus one songs and completed in grand style with ‘Let us kiss and say goodbye,’ in a slow tempo. They took off to the stage with the up tempo song ‘Never too much’, then from their 1973 album singing ‘the day Robin sang to me.’
Bow’s love song, followed by ‘It feels good to be loved so bad’ as well as ‘There’s No good in goodbye’ from their 1978 album, all done in slow tempo . The next list of songs were; ‘I kinda miss you,’ ‘Never find another find,’ ‘here comes the hurt again,’ ‘girl of my dreams,’ and ‘wish you were mine.’
The dancing on the ‘Shining star’ track was impressive, stepping forward with left, then backwards across before doing 360 degrees turn around. Having won the hearts of the audience, the Manhattans completed with an encore of ‘Kiss and say goodbye’ in a slow tempo.