Anyone who doubts the lasting appeal of the '60s Motown sound should have been at Desperado's last night. Martha Reeves (sans the Vandellas) packed them in.

With a following as boisterous as hers, Reeves doesn't need the Vandellas; they'd only be drowned out. Whenever harmonies were required -- and even sometimes when they weren't -- the crowd happily obliged. Other times just about everybody cheered, hollered and stomped as Reeves charged the air with hits like "Jimmie Mack," "Nowhere to Run" and "Dancin' in the Streets."

It's been 20 years since Reeves began recording for Motown, and she still loves to perform her early hits. Backed by a competent Detroit quartet called Funk Unltd., she set the tone for the evening immediately, strutting on stage, clapping a tambourine at her side and singing Van Morrison's "Wild Night." Then she moved into more familiar material, her gutsy contralto soaring at times into the stratosphere.

Time has only enhanced her delivery of ballads. The torch songs she sang between the up-tempo requests were warmly expressive and often imposed a strange if only temporary silence on the room. Last night marked the beginning of an extensive tour for Reeves, a tour that may well spark new interest in her career. She deserves it. Indelibly Martha Reeves By Mike Joyce Special to The Washington Pst

Anyone who doubts the lasting appeal of the '60s Motown sound should have been at Desperado's last night. Martha Reeves (sans the Vandellas) packed them in.

With a following as boisterous as hers, Reeves doesn't need the Vandellas; they'd only be drowned out. Whenever harmonies were required -- and even sometimes when they weren't -- the crowd happily obliged. Other times just about everybody cheered, hollered and stomped as Reeves charged the air with hits like "Jimmie Mack," "Nowhere to Run" and "Dancin' in the Streets."

It's been 20 years since Reeves began recording for Motown, and she still loves to perform her early hits. Backed by a competent Detroit quartet called Funk Unltd., she set the tone for the evening immediately, strutting on stage, clapping a tambourine at her side and singing Van Morrison's "Wild Night." Then she moved into more familiar material, her gutsy contralto soaring at times into the stratosphere.

Time has only enhanced her delivery of ballads. The torch songs she sang between the up-tempo requests were warmly expressive and often imposed a strange if only temporary silence on the room. Last night marked the beginning of an extensive tour for Reeves, a tour that may well spark new interest in her career. She deserves it.