The diva, the icon, the entertainer delivered the funky, the soulful, the dramatic Wednesday night at the Palace Theatre in Albany.
Corny as it may sound, Diana Ross was just supreme.
The longtime pop singer promised her greatest hits during the current “More Today Than Yesterday” tour. And she delivered 20-plus songs in an 80-minute show that compelled many in the 2,600-strong audience to stand, sway and clap to assorted beats.
The 66-year-old Ross was in strong voice with strong musicians. A crackerjack 10-man band backed every Ross play with power and pizazz, and three backing vocalists gave Diana’s songs a little extra sound and depth.
Not that she needed the help. Ross was in command from the start, bouncing on stage with the boisterous “I’m Coming Out” and dressed in a red gown and fluffy red boa around her shoulders. The second choice was an excellent cover, Spiral Staircase’s “More Today Than Yesterday,” and Ross made the 41-year-old song sound brand new.
“Memories!” Ross shouted to her fans, as she launched “My World is Empty Without You” and pleased fans of The Supremes.
The singer is all business on stage, and there was little conversation with the audience. But Ross was also playful, and returned an open hug to a young woman who approached the stage from her seat and extended her arms in a make-believe embrace. Ross blew her new friend a kiss at the end of the “My World” rendition. Other kisses would also get airmail treatment.
“Where Did Our Love Go” and “Baby Love” followed, and it looks and sounds like Ross still enjoys singing these old gems. She walked across the stage, sometimes using a sexy strut, as she gave fans the goods. And the diva was just getting warmed up. “Stop! In the Name of Love” was one of the first house busters of the night, complete with the singer extending an arm — traffic cop style with palm out — for every “Stop!”
“You Can’t Hurry Love” followed, and Ross checked in with a powerful “Love Child,” which included a Caribbean-tinged musical interlude that gave Ross the chance to change into a white sequined gown. There were more hits — and more costume changes — ahead.
Ross belted out “Upside Down,” got a little tender for “Touch Me in the Morning.” And because every Ross fan has a favorite, a funky “Love Hangover” and “Ease on Down the Road” — from “The Wiz”— were in the mix. Sorry, kids — “The Happening” didn’t make the cut.
Ross was in deep purple for a slinky, sexy, saxy “Look of Love” and smoldered a little bit more with two Billie Holiday standards, “Fine and Mellow” and “Don’t Explain.”
Diana and company swung through a rocking “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” before a hot pink-clad Ross — she makes the quickest costume changes in show business — put the “Theme from Mahogany” into the air.
Ross works hard, and fast. Maybe a little too fast; the musicians moved quickly from number to number. A break for a sip of water or quick words to the audience would have calmed down the pace a bit.
It’s a minor quibble. A soaring “Ain’t No Mountain” led to Ross as good as gold in a bright shimmering gold gown for the finale, Gloria Gaynor’s sassy disco hit “I Will Survive.”
Nice call. Ross has survived the decades, and proved Wednesday night she’s sticking around for more.
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