Right so Friday I left My home of Bristol to head down to Plymouth and on Friday, the same night that Motown soul legend Martha Reeves of Martha and The Vandellas were in town. Me and the whole Johns clan were there to whitness an entire evening of some of the very best soul pop music from the 60’s.
Mum only really brought tickets to the show after I had twisted her arm, making the point that she would love the show because it was someone she had grown up listening too, and that she had played Martha’s records to us without really knowing it.
Martha is one of those artists whose voice was really dominant voice during Motowns heyday of the mid sixties not only being the leading vocalist for the Vandellas but also providing backing vocals for the likes of Marvin Gay and Stevie Wonder, she was one of the go to girls of souls golden generation.
Playing in the little tucked away club called the Hub standing in the shadows of the Pavillions, Plymouths biggest venue. It was proof that if you ever need it that great songs will always stand the test of time. The crowd was full to burst with the age ranging from people who would have been old enough to have seen her back in her Prime through to kids in their late teens early twenties, all of whom would have been brought up listening to the likes of the Vandellas or The Supremes.
Takin a little while to get going the 73 year old Martha, backed by a full 8 piece band cracked through a set spanning her entire career leaving no single unturned or even a few B-sides crept their way onto her set list. of course people were waiting for her big hits Nowhere to Run, Jimmy Mac, Your Love Is Like A Heatwave and Dancing in the
streets of all which were met by palpable sense of excitement.
But she also delivered wonderfully scripted stories introducing some of the songs the songs, dropping golden nuggets about her career back in the 60s and referencing people that she had met and also throwing in some good old gospel Christmas Carols, ending the night with a Marvin Gay medley during which she got me and another guy up on stage to dance along with her. During this point I could feel myself doing a Waynes World I’m Not Worthy moment as I could feel her voice shake the stage still in veritably hitting the notes of yesteryear.
Her voice still maintained the classic feel that graced so many Motown hits, managing to at times be sweet and sensitive whilst still being powerful. She has a huge presence and no night out would really be complete without a good old slab of Motown and Martha’s hits. Nowhere to Run and im-particular this performance of it on Jools Holland Hootennany a couple of years ago really demonstrates the staying power of Motowns pop stable