Soul and rock legends and wildly popular Irish lasses come to downtown
The next several days are adding up to a a busy entertainment week in downtown Akron with the Civic Theatre playing host to some living legends and some lucrative lasses.
The legends are the Rock Hall inductees and Motown, soul and pop icons The Temptations along with The Four Tops. They were part of the initial wave of Motown groups that brought sophisticated soul to the masses and the mainstream. You know the hits, the David Ruffin-Eddie Kendricks era Temps with songwriting team Holland-Dozier-Holland and others gave us “My Girl,” “The Way You Do The Things You Do” “I Wish It Would Rain,” and then the transition to the Norman Whitfield-produced psychedelic soul of “Runaway Child, Running Wild,” and “Papa Was A Rolling Stone.”
The Four Tops not only kept the same classic lineup for 44 years, but they also reaped the benefits of Holland-Dozier-Holland with “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch),” “Reach Out (I’ll Be There)” and more.
Each of the classic vocal groups has one remaining, surviving founding member with Otis Williams keeping it real for the Temptations and Abdul “Duke” Fakir holding it down for the classic Tops.
Currently, the Temptations are on a bit of a roll with a jukebox musical “Ain’t Too Proud - The Life and Times of The Temptations” having opened on Broadway a few weeks ago to solid reviews.
The group also released a covers album “All The Time,” last year — their first in 8 years and the group's 62nd(!!) overall. It’s got some contemporary tunes, including The Weeknd’s “Earned It,” Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” (which already resembles the Motown classic “Let’s Get It On”), and Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me.”
They’re unlikely to whip out too many of those newer tunes when they already have a pretty solid catalog of songs that folks want to hear.
After reliving the soulful, urbane sounds of the '60s and early '70s Detroit and America, there’s a rare chance to experience some straight-up psychedelic rock 'n' roll via Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets.
Mason was the drummer for Pink Floyd, and now that the band is officially laid to rest, he apparently needed something to do and decided to form a band dedicated to the early, Syd Barrett-led years of Pink Floyd oeuvre.
As is sometimes the case with bands that begin as underground weirdos and go on to become stadium-filling rock stars, there’s always a subset of fans who will insist that “everything before (massive hit album) was great.” This tour is for those kind of Floyd fans and the set lists stick with songs from the band’s first seven albums before the massive global hit that was “Dark Side of the Moon” turned them into arena fillers.
Obviously, feuding Floyd figures Roger Waters and David Gilmour aren’t on hand, so Mason has enlisted vocalist Gary Kemp ('80s new wave balladeers Spandau Ballet) and Lee Harris on guitars, longtime Floyd touring bassist Guy Pratt, who also sings, and Dom Beken on keyboards.
Floyd fanatics will get some tunes you probably never thought you’d see performed live by a member of the band including Barrett’s, surreal “Bike” and “Vegetable Man,” alongside relative hits such as “One of These Days,” “Lucifer Sam” and “Set The Controls for The Heart of the Sun.”
The tour, which began last summer, has been getting pretty good reviews, though some critics and fans have complained that the band playing can feel a bit perfunctory at times. Whatever. I can almost guarantee this will be your last chance to see 74-year-old Nick Mason playing old Floyd tunes. If that interests you, I say go.
Tuesday marks the return of the very popular Celtic Woman, the female Irish musical group that seems to have Akron on its itinerary every time they criss-cross the States. Each tour is themed and usually tied to their latest album.
This time out it’s the group’s lucky 13th album “Celtic Woman: Ancient Land,” which was released in March and mixes original tunes and traditional Irish and Celtic songs and a few Irished-up covers. No need to mess with a proven formula.
The current iteration of Celtic Woman women is Megan Walsh, Mairéad Carlin, Éabha McMahon and violinist Tara McNeill along with a full band and dancers. (Tickets: $41-$150; akroncivic.com.)
Malcolm X Abram can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3758. Like him on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/1lNgxml, and follow him on Twitter @malcolmabramABJ.