Soul Jam brings audience back to the ’70s

The ’70s Soul Jam show Friday night at The Palace that featured Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Th

“If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” performed by Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes opened the ’70s Soul Jam show Friday night at The Palace, that also featured The Emotions, The Stylistics and the Delfonics.

It was a good time from the opening note, Anthony Brooks’ raspy shout cutting through the cloud-high harmonies of the three-man chorus. The band then lowered for Brooks’ sermon on love, which rose to a shouting crescendo that brought the four of them together for a final note.

For 25 minutes these guys — not young — didn’t stop dancing in unison. The moves, always smooth, never seemed to repeat themselves.

Sharon Paige joined them on stage to sing the hit “Hope That We Can Be Together Soon.”

This was the first of four bands (three from Philadelphia), and it was already a good time. Oddly, the wound-up full-house stayed in their seats. Granted the crowd wasn’t young, but it was hard not to rise for these American dance gems that should be protected as rare species, given the opportunities we have to hear these songs live or on the radio.

The decked out crowd sported styles that included men in fur coats and blue suits, women in high heeled boots, full-length dresses and stylish hats. But this was nothing like the entertainment. The Philly-based Delfonics wore glittered, matching psychedelic sports jackets and capes. Each group had equally flamboyant outfits.

The Stylistics came out last, crooning their long high notes about looking, losing and finding love. In their pin-striped blue suits and shirt, they swayed together to songs like “I’m Stone in Love With You.” This, like all of them, moved forward on a soft, memorable groove that reeked of the ’70s. The crowd sang the chorus audibly, and certain pockets sang the verses. Like them or not, hits don’t come this smooth anymore.

Other goodies they sang were the ’71 smash “Betcha by Golly, Wow,” and “Only for the Children,” which had a tinge of Earth Wind and Fire to it. Their harmonies were full and strong, all the while they moved together, pointing, waving their arms across the sky, leaning, spinning, the moves never stopped or repeated.

They eventually broke out their big hits — “Stop, Look, Listen to Your Heart,” and “You Are Everything” — unfortunately both were smushed into a medley.

The Emotions, originally three sisters, shouted their tunes like “Don’t Want to Lose Your Love” and “Boogie Wonderland.” And of course they jammed their 1977 AM radio hit “Best of My Love,” a definite highlight of the night. Their set was barely 30 minutes, but they sang and danced through every second. Better condensing all that energy into a short set than unnecessarily stretching it into 90 minutes.

The Delfonics sang their hits in that falsetto Philly sound they helped brand. Songs included “For the Love I Give to You,” “Break Your Promise,” and “La-La (Means I Love You)”.

It was a nice surprise to see The Palace filled for this kind of oldies show, not to mention the diversity of the audience.

Categories: Life and Arts

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