The show is called “Endless Memories” and that’s exactly what Miss Diana Ross gave us. She sang almost every song we wanted hear. And there weren’t any Motown medleys stuck in the middle or at the end of the program. We got a lot of the Motown hits – the entire versions of the songs – right up front.
I bought a ticket as soon they went on sale and I got a seat in the first row of the balcony just about in the center of the row for the first night. New York City Center seats about 2200, and I was surprised that she was playing that venue instead of Madison Square Garden or Barclay Center like other divas such as Barbra Streisand or Cher. Originally only two nights were up for sale but then they extended the run to five days.
Surprisingly there was no music over the sound system while we waited. In front of us was a sheer curtain with some blue lights creating some shapes on it. You could see some of the band and stagehands walking behind the curtain. At about 7:45pm, the band started playing some very dramatic music and on the screen behind them were different shapes and colors. The music started a familiar melody and off-stage we could hear “I’m coming out.” Suddenly the screen droped to the floor and on to the stage walked Miss Ross singing “I’m Coming Out.” The screen showed photographs and videos of Miss Ross. Unfortunately, we could only see the bottom half of the screen so we got a lot of views of her nose and mouth or of her from the waist down dancing.
The band (who she introduced by first names only) was fantastic. There was a percussionist, drummer, pianist/keyboardist, trombonist, saxophonist, bassist, guitarist, and three back-up singers – two men and one woman. I was kind of hoping for a full orchestra but this band filled the room and provided plenty of power. They each got the opportunity to solo – usually during the breaks when Miss Ross would go off-stage for a costume change. “Love Child” got an amazing extended salsa ending and each before costume change song got similar extended endings. “Don’t Explain” got inexplicable shimmies at the end while she sang “don’t.” No matter how serious the song, Miss Ross makes it fun and gives the audience a performance.
Oh my – the costumes. Her first entrance was in an aqua sequined gown with a tulle wrap that made her look like aqua sundae. After each entrance, sometime during the first song, she would drop the wrap and someone would whisk it off-stage. All the gowns were sequined – there were also red, black, and white. And each had long trains. Just as each gown was different, so was each wrap. Besides tulle there was chiffon, feathers, and organza. We were told not to take photographs but she posed and smiled for everyone taking photos up front. There were also two big fans that she opened and closed and used to fan herself. One was red and the other was black.
And, oh, that Miss Ross weave. It’s unmistakable and she kept pushing her hair away from her face like we’ve seen her do so many times before.
The audience in the orchestra section was up on their feet as soon as she made her entrance and only sat down during the quiet songs, of which there were only a few. Between each song, lights would shine on the audience so we could all see each other. During one of the few times she spoke, Miss Ross told us that she asked for the lights to be on us so that she could see us. That huge smile never left her face and she’d walk back and forth across the stage. Sometimes she held out her arms to give us all a big hug and sometimes she’d ask us to sing along or to sing some of the more familiar lyrics. For the encore song, she gave a mic to an audience member to sing and he sang very softly. But then she gave it to a woman, who handed to a man behind her and he belted out the chorus. Miss Ross kept motioning to him to continue and let him sing for a while. During “Upside Down,” Miss Ross brought two people up from the audience – both wearing red just like she was – to dance on stage.
Miss Ross was in terrific voice. She didn’t hit all the high notes and didn’t hold notes for a long time, but those are all victims of age. At the end flowers were given to her by audience members, just as any diva deserves.
There were so many times when I got chills while she was singing. I never imagined that I would get to hear songs like “Love Child” live. And how much fun is it to sing the “Stop!” in “Stop! In the Name of Love” along with Miss Ross?
One of the few times she spoke, she did tell us how much she loved being in NYC and shared some of memories. NYC loves her just as much.
I’m Coming Out
More Today Than Yesterday
My World is Empty Without You
Stop! In the Name of Love
Come See About Me
You Can’t Hurry Love
Touch Me in the Morning
It’s Hard for Me to Say
It’s My House
Take Me Higher
Ease on Down the Road
The Look of Love
Good Morning Heartache
Why Do Fools Fall in Love?
Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To?)
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
I Will Survive
Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand)
I wish my photos could convey the absolute fabulousness of the gowns.
By Carene Lydia Lopez