There was standing room only -- and not much of that -- in the Kennedy Center's Grand Foyer on Sunday. A huge throng of Motown fans turned out to hear the Four Tops celebrate the sixth anniversary of the Millennium Stage free concert series.
Decked out in glittering black outfits, the Four Tops kept the hits coming for well over an hour by energetically reprising and choreographing "Baby I Need Your Lovin'," "Bernadette" and other favorites. Most were instantly recognizable, despite the cavernous hall's muffling acoustics.
But as long as singer Levi Stubbs isn't touring with the group -- he's been sidelined by illness -- the horn-powered ensemble accompanying the vocal quartet should probably open concerts with "Theme From 'Mission: Impossible.' " Stubbs, after all, is an artist who simply cannot be replaced.
Former Temptation Theo Peoples filled in for him, displaying a gritty, soulful voice along with flashes of old-school fervor. No doubt his performance would have left a far stronger impression in virtually any other setting. But as the quartet moved through its Holland-Dozier-Holland repertoire of hits, Stubbs's stirring lead vocals were sorely missed. Still, the crowd went home happy and humming after Peoples, newcomer Ronnie McNeir and founding members Renaldo "Obie" Benson and Abdul "Duke" Fakir harmoniously resurrected "Standing in the Shadows of Love" and "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)."
-- Mike Joyce