The way they do the things they do!
We have to respect the Temptations for not only creating their own art form, but carrying it off with such aplomb. They wail, exploring every shade of pitch from the deep bass of Harry McGilberry to the soulful high tenor of Otis Williams. And they shuffle, flail their arms, wiggle their fingers, jab their elbows, kick, strut, shake and pull a million other moves too difficult to describe.
Anyone who can make the case that such behavior is appropriate under any circumstances certainly gets my vote. How the Temptations manage to look suave and not silly defies the imagination. But the group has been doing it for years.
Friday at Kleinhans Music Hall, they showed that they still could do it, even though the quintet is over 40 years old, and Williams is the only original member.
They sashayed out on stage in fine Temptations style. Dapper in their dark suits and red carnations, they eased into "The Way You Do the Things You Do."
The Temptations are too smooth ever to be in a hurry. They accompanied the song with a Charleston-like dance -- legs gently bent, arms crossing in front of them, hands slapping their knees. Lights flashed orange, green and silky blue.
At first, the sound was fuzzy in the balcony, but by the second or third song, things were straightened out. McGilberry's voice, especially, boomed forth thrillingly. His band mates knew how to use him to best advantage, giving him dramatic lines like "And the band played on" and "Baby, I'd die for you."
Williams, for his part, wears his age well. Time hasn't hurt his pipes. Excitement crested when, in the middle of "This Is My Promise," he went out into the audience. Grabbing women's hands, making wild promises while looking into their eyes, he sent the whole front row into a tizzy.
"I'll pay your rent," he promised one woman. "I'm gonna cook you dinner," he crooned to another, to the tremulous sound of an organ. As he gyrated, he cast crazy shadows in the spotlight on the wall.
Back up on stage, he finished the song on his knees, as the orchestra soared behind him and the crowd roared its support. Ain't too proud to beg!
The Temptations promised us a trip through the decades, and the program included such highly polished chestnuts as "Just My Imagination," "Standing on the Top," "Get Ready" and I can't remember what else, carried away as I was by the glitz and virtuosity of it all.
Speaking of glitz, the concert's first half had it, too.
We had selections from "Oliver!," and even though it gave short shrift not only to "Food, Wonderful Food" and "Where Is Love?," it had such Broadway dash that we couldn't complain. The Bacchanale from Saint-Saens' "Samson and Delilah" -- probably the dirtiest striptease dance since actual Biblical times -- clattered and echoed with cymbals and primal timpani. Johann Strauss' "Wine, Women and Song" helped round out what assistant conductor Ron Spigelman pointed out was "an evening of temptations."
The show repeats at 8 tonight.