Musical memories never die; they just get packaged and go on tour.
Or so it seemed Saturday night at the Capital Centre, where the "Lovin' & Feelings," a large-scale oldies show just beginning to make its way across the country, attracted 13,000 people eager to celebrate the sounds of the '60s. What the largely middle-aged crowd expected of the Association, the Supremes, the Four Tops, the Righteous Brothers and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons is what it got. More or less.
At first, things looked grim. The Association began by harmonizing on a note of mediocrity. Having recorded some of the most popular and inconsequential tunes of the '60s, the band now spends its time faithfully recreating its seven-part harmonized hits--"Cherish" and the like--without ever rising above a level of gleeful nostalgia.
Even so, its performance was downright riveting compared with what followed: the Supremes led by original member Mary Wilson. In their present incarnation, the Supremes are only a gaudy reflection of their former selves--three singers trapped in a Las Vegas lounge act, where racing bombastic medleys pass for inspiration. As sorry as this sight was, the group received an encore, perhaps for old times' sake.
All was forgiven, though, when the Four Tops reached the stage and did Motown proud. Led by the soul-shaking voice of Levi Stubbs, the Tops were simply explosive. Galvanic renditions of "Bernadette," "Reach Out" and "Can't Help Myself" seemed to feed upon each other until the crowd's emotions reached a feverish pitch, and not once did the group lean on sentiment for support.
The Righteous Brothers, too, were in top form, though they never generated quite the excitement the Tops did. Both physically and vocally, these two singers have aged remarkably well. In fact, they look much the same as they did on "Shindig" in the '60s, and their complementary voices--Bobby Hatfield's ethereal tenor and Bill Medley's cavernous baritone cum bass--made for some wonderful blue-eyed soul.
Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons concluded the show. Perhaps because of the late hour, it took Valli longer than usual to work the crowd into a falsetto-screaming frenzy. But he eventually succeeded, relying on the group's impressive string of hits, songs that once filled the airwaves back when AM radios did more than talk.