Motown superstars Martha Reeves and The Vandellas headlined an unforgettable evening of Northern Soul and Motown at Gorilla last Saturday night. Martha, a force of nature and resplendent in pink sequins turned 76 a few days ago, which prompted a spontaneous rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ from an adoring crowd.
Joined onstage by her sisters Lois and Delphine, these three sisters of soul delivered hit after hit with some barn-storming covers for good measure. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the roars from the crowd after classics such as ‘Nowhere to run to’ and ‘Heatwave’ were verging on deafening and the love seemed to be more than mutual. Martha was feeding off the energy of the crowd made up of seasoned Motown fanatics and a younger audience of soul-lovers.
A tight band with superb performances from the brass section delivered a set that included Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’, ‘Jimmy Mack’, and ‘My Baby Loves Me.’ Martha reeled off an impressive list of artists who have recorded covers of her songs over the years, perhaps most famously Mick Jagger and David Bowie’s cover of ‘Dancing in the Street’.
However, she said the one band that never covered her was the Beatles so to ‘get revenge’ she was going to cover one of theirs- before belting out a soulful rendition of ‘Something’. A highlight was their version of Jackie Wilson’s ‘(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher’, during which the audience threw their hands into the air like a faithful congregation in worship to the Queen of the Motown sound.
Martha made a passionate call to arms for supporting live music, which she said was the only way to ‘truly feel the soul of the music and share the love we have for each other.’ She proclaimed herself the ‘President of the Lonely Hearts Club’ and instructed all those single folks in the audience “who came here by yourself. Please, please don’t leave by yourself. Ask for someone’s number honey- there’s some mighty fine-looking people in here”.
Match-maker extraordinaire, incredible vocals and supplies of off-the-scale levels of sass all rolled into one verifiable living legend- Miss Martha Reeves. This is not a gig that will forgotten any time soon.
Gorilla, 54-56 Whitworth St W, Manchester M1 5WW
0161 826 2998