*The Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles was the place to be on Friday, July 20, as The Whispers, Jeffrey Osborne, Peabo Bryson, Freddie Jackson and Howard Hewett swaggered into town billing themselves as the “Gentlemen of Soul.”
Howard Hewett started the evening off performing hits, which included Shalimar’s “A Night to Remember” and concluded his set with my favorite, “Say Amen.” His voice was as soothing as ever and he is still eye candy. Howard was a good choice to get the evening started.
Freddie Jackson was up next and although allowed only 30 minutes to perform hits from his extensive arsenal, his choices were excellent. “Jam Tonight” “Tasty Love” and “You are My Lady” are audience favorites, so he didn’t go wrong choosing to perform those songs. He also didn’t go wrong with his wardrobe choice either. I loved his silver shoes. LOL!
Peabo! Peabo! Peabo! OMG! He is still as fine as ever and his voice was crisp, clear and as strong as it was when he first burst onto the scene. He was stimulating on both the visual and auditory fronts. He performed hit after hit. The audience was treated to new music, which was the bomb. Peabo also threw in an acoustic guitar-playing rendition of Sade’s “King of Sorrow.” We loved it! Of course we heard some of the Peabo staples from back in the day, which sounded as good as ever. “I’m So Into You” and “Feel the Fire” were performed to perfection as were the other songs, which included “Tonight I Celebrate My Love for You,” a duet he recorded with Roberta Flack, whose part was very adequately performed by one of his background singers. Peabo knows how to put on a show. I was actually apprehensive for the performer having to follow him to the stage.
That performer would be Jeffrey Osborne, who came out swinging for the fence, hit a homer (with “Holding On”) and followed up by knocking every other song out of the park, so to speak. His motto throughout his set was, “Old school is the shit!” Let me just say right now that his entire old school performance, in which he followed “Holding On” with James Brown’s “Funky Good Time” was definitely the shit. He performed “Love Ballad,” “Concentrate on You,” “On the Wings of Love” and also paid homage to George Duke, the man who produced pretty much all of Jeffrey’s solo hits, by performing George’s megahit, “Reach.” To say it was well received would be the understatement of the evening. The audience ate it up. There was also a portion of the set, when Jeffrey’s bass player did a baseline challenge; he played just the baseline portion of the song and the song should be recognized by the audience. Yep, we recognized The O’Jay’s, “For the Love of Money” and Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish.” Jeffrey’s time on stage was high energy and high octane from the first song. I’ve never seen a 70 year old perform with as much enthusiasm. He even made a quip that he didn’t know what he was doing moving like that at his age. That’s okay Jeffrey, you can rest today. 🙂 A Jeffrey Osborne concert wouldn’t be complete without the “Woo Woo challenge.” He had a male from the audience that could Woo Woo Woo with the best of them. The female wasn’t bad either, but what else would you expect from Glodean White, wife of the late Barry White and one-third of the singing trio Love Unlimited. Jeffrey’s set also included a new song, “Worth it All.” It was vintage Jeffrey and folks need to check it out because it is hot. Jeffrey’s entire set was hot!
The final act of the evening was The Whispers. What can you say about the Whispers that have not already been said a thousand times during their more than 50 year illustrious music career? Their set began with a Soul Train video clip from several decades ago. Throughout the set, pictures were displayed of the Whispers through the years. Hearing, “Gotta Do Wrong” nearly five decades later, really magnified their longevity. The Whispers have way too many hits to perform in an evening shared with four other artists, so they performed key songs from their immense treasure chest. A Whispers concert is not a Whispers concert without hearing “Keep On Loving Me,” “Rock Steady” and “Say Yes,” all of which sounded pretty darn good. Although now nearly 75 years old, the Scott twins are still making it do what it do and at 69, Leavell Degree is as fit as a fiddle.
By now, folks should be able to tell that I had a ball watching the Gentlemen of Soul. In fact, I’m already looking forward to the next one; whenever it happens. If you never seen these gentlemen perform, you may want to consider it. I doubt that you would regret it.
Marilyn Smith is a Los Angeles based writer/reviewer. Contact her via [email protected].