The screaming for Teddy Pendergrass began before the singer even took the Capital Centre stage last night. The slides of sexy Teddy that flashed on the white curtain started the female screams. When Pendergrass appeared in his big cowboy hat and teddy bear insignia on his sleeves, the wails picked up. When he sang "You Got What I Need" in his powerful, throaty voice -- pointing at the crowd and shaking his pelvis -- the sold-out arena went bananas.
The screams were an essential part of Pendergrass' performance and he got them with every gesture, comment and inflection. His songs are to eros as church hymns are to religion.
Pendergrass is interesting musically because his raw Southern soul voice is wrapped up in the smooth Philadelphia sound of producers Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff. The contrasts worked best last night on a medley of old hits Pendergrass had sung with Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes when the Philly sound was at its peak.
On his later songs, like "Come On and Go With Me," his sexy moan was effective. But it was disappointing to find that Pendergrass lacked the versatility to do anything but growl in the same gear all night.