Let me tell you, if you ever have the chance to see Diana Ross in concert and don't take it, you're a fool.
It's an entire experience, like riding a roller coaster at night, or watching fireworks from a rooftop. Hold onto your hats. It's a wild ride.
Anyone lucky enough to be at the Seneca Niagara Casino Event Center on Friday night knows what I'm talking about.
Miss Ross, as I'm going to call her -- as she probably wants us to call her -- creates waves on stage, first with her billowy hair, then with her glimmering, ethereal dresses, of which there are many. Her first ensemble came wrapped in the world's largest loofa. Even from the back of this flat venue, you could see her.
But then, she stuns with her voice. After so many eras on the Diana Ross Throne, between The Supremes, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Diana Ross the solo act, Diana Ross the actress, Diana Ross the Michael Jackson mentor, the mother, the wife -- all of it and then some -- the girl from downtrodden Detroit still sings like an angel. She certainly wouldn't have to, but she does.
Her airy soprano soars, even in front of a divine nine-member band, and a room full of voluntary Supremes. There might be technical assistance in her mixing (maybe not), but she's laying it all out on the stage. Like a real pro.
Her hour-plus set launched with the gay anthem "I'm Coming Out" before barreling through seven of her biggest Supremes hits. A 30-minute medley you don't think will ever end, and don't want to. On most of them she repeats the refrain many times over, just to let the nostalgia sink in. You do miss the signature trio and their precision. But there's a reason she's still here and we're here for her.
"Baby Love," "Stop! In the Name of Love," "Come See About Me," "You Can't Hurry Love," "Love Child," "More Today Than Yesterday," "My World Is Empty Without You"—these songs are still so good. Their innocence and musical simplicity are as irresistible as early Beatles songs. In concert, some 50-plus years after their catastrophic rise to popularity, they still resonate with her fans. It was the kind of show where the security guards danced. Could you blame them?
I imagine many women who grew up with Miss Ross's music found this to be a bucket list moment.
Considering her cultural significance, as a powerful woman in a misogynistic music industry, as a crossover artist in a racially divisive America, as a force always to be reckoned with -- as the blueprint for the Modern Diva -- she means a heck of a lot, to a lot of people. And with good reason.
All of this is not enough to qualify her performance as anything of legend. She still needed to bring the goods, to deliver on all those hopes and childhood dreams. She did. As a musical act, she holds her own, and at 72, does it with gratitude and grace.
Surprisingly, Miss Ross did not serenade us with story or banter. Maybe that's okay. Even with this turnout in this room, a veritable Diana Ross Convention, it's about the music.
A number of medleys from her solo career showed off her sultry and funky side, covering "Love Hangover," "Ease On Down the Road," and "Take Me Higher." The seductive "Touch Me In the Morning" sang like a bird.
Two more anthems—do you sense a pattern here?—closed out the tight, efficient set: "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "I Will Survive," both of which are covers that still, somehow, belong to her.
This is not a once-in-a-lifetime catch. Miss Ross has been here before, and will likely be back. Make sure you catch her. You'll love it more today than yesterday.