Motown legend Diana Ross brings the party to the 02 Arena for the first of two career-spanning celebrations in the capital.
As both a member of The Supremes and as a solo artist, Diana Ross has 18 No.1 records, sold over 100 million albums, performed at the Superbowl and more recently closed the Platinum Party at the Palace and will be performing the legend’s slot at this weekend’s Glastonbury Festival. The icon is the true definition of music royalty.
There was a slight 20-minute delay on the night but fans had been waiting over a year for the rescheduled ‘Thank You’ tour so the anticipation inside the arena was building.
When Diana Ross came on stage in an orange frilly shawl to the customary ‘I’m Coming Out’. It instantly had everyone on their feet and the party started inside the Arena.
This continued as the singer took it back to ‘the good old days’ for a selection of back-to-back songs by The Supremes. Images of the singer in the 60s flashed across the screen as she sang ‘My World Is Empty Without You’, ‘Baby Love’, ‘Stop In The Name Of Love’ and ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’.
This section was a hugely enjoyable throwback to her chart-topping Motown hits in the mid 60s but also a reminder of how long Ross has been successful and remained a fan-favourite throughout. 60 years later she is still selling out some of the biggest arenas in the World.
The opening section of the show ended with ‘Love Child’ and in an extended outro by the large brass band Ross went off stage for the first of her outfit changes.
She came on for the second section in an equally extravagant red-sequined dress to sing some of her biggest solo hits like ‘Chain Reaction’ and ‘Upside Down’, which she described as a real body mover.
Throughout the lively extended performance of ‘Upside Down’, Ross’ qualities as an entertainer shone through. Dancing along and encouraging the audience to do the same, she jokingly said: “If I can move like this and be 47, then you can do it!”
During an instrumental section of the song, the icon got the stagehand to lift the lights to interact with the audience whilst dancing. Even after performing for all these years, it is clear that Ross craves the interaction with her fans and it is those little touches that make the concert experience so memorable and exciting for everyone involved.
It goes without saying but at the age of 78, Diana Ross’ isn’t quite able to hit the same notes she did in her glory days. However, in the more relaxed piano-led ballads like ‘If We Hold on Together’ she shone as she could take her time and stun the audience with powerful vocals.
The main section of the show finished with an epic finale of ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ and a cover of Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive.’ Two classics that are guaranteed to get everyone singing and dancing along.
Diana Ross ended the concert in an unconventional style for a big arena show by taking a seat on stage to have a conversation with the audience. With the feel of a Vegas residency, she introduced her family sitting on the front row and then said: “What would you like to talk about? Would you like to ask me what I’ve been doing with my life?” This was followed by a cheeky laugh.
Upon request she sang the title track of her new album ‘Thank You’, Ross dedicated it to her fans for everything they have done for her and her family.
The legend left the stage following a reprise of ‘I Will Survive’, a fitting ending to one of the most enduring and iconic figures in music history.
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Words: Adam Davidson
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