The cool, muggy air of Columbia, Md., did not dampen the spirits of the crowd at Merriweather Post Pavilion last night, as Lou Rawls and Melba Moore presented an evening of warm soul music.
Moore opened the show, with her high-pitched voice cutting through the darkness, a blast of musical fire. Dressed in purple satin pants and sequined blouse, she slithered about the stage, alternately parrying and caressing her songs. When she sang the late Van McCoy's "Lean on Me," her voice spiraled in melodic acrobatics, then she reared back and caught a long high note that brought the crowd to its feet.
Moore's wrenching performance contrasted sharply with the cool smoothness of Lou Rawls, an ingratiating entertainer with a relaxed and witty style.
His show was an eclectic sampling of various styles, from soul and jazz to Broadway tunes, all enhanced by his distinctive interpretive skills. He sang a jazzy version of "Tobacco Road" and highlighted his set with his newest release, "Let Me Be Good to You." His performance was hampered at times by lengthy monologues which seemed forced and finally became monotonous. Rawls' voice, however, saved the day, and when he reached down to pick up a gravelly low note, the crowd oohed and ahhed along with the words.