There are few vocal groups that can truly be called legendary. The Temptations is one such group. Last night at the Oxford New Theatre I had the privilege of witnessing their genius from the front row.
Formed in 1960 they have had frequent changes of personnel over the years, but Otis Williams (pictured above left) is the last remaining original member. Now aged 68 and after 48 years of being a Temptation, he showed no sign of stopping. Indeed, the sheer physical energy demonstrated by each band member was exhausting to watch.
Rooted in rhythm and blues, soul, be bop and gospel, their distinctive sound is formed from Motown fused with rock and funk to produce psychedelic pop. On stage their close harmonies and vocal arrangements are performed with a relaxed ease that comes only from years of working together.
Dressed in blue satin jackets, grey trousers and shiny black shoes, the Temptations danced, swung and whirled in unison, putting on a thrilling one and half hour performance. At no point did they stop moving. Songs poured out freely and sweetly like melted chocolate and ran straight into each other, hit after hit just kept coming: Cloud nine; Run away child, running wild; I can’t get next to you; Ball of confusion; Just my imagination (running away with me); Papa was a rollin’ stone; My girl; Since I lost my baby; and Get ready.
Absolutely wonderful, heart-warming, life-affirming stuff!
Photos: Moth Clark