Smokey Robinson is still on fire fifty three years since he was the first artist signed to Motown Records. In an evening filled with golden oldies and a couple of newer songs, including “Love Bath,” Robinson kept the audience spell-bound throughout his two hours on stage.
During the evening, it was clear that Robinson continues to perform for the sheer joy it brings him and his audiences. This feeling is echoed in the title of his latest album, Time Flies When You Are Having Fun, released in 2009. His newest album, Smokey and Friends, will be released in September of this year.
From the very first song “Being with You,” to the last cloud-roaring competition in “Cruisin,” it was hard for many audience members to avoid singing along. During many numbers, audience participation was encouraged.
Dressed in sharp lavender pants and an awesome violet silk jacket, William “Smokey” Robinson showed his moves like a man 30 years younger than his actual 74. The newer the song, the more suggestive was the dancing.
Crowd favorites were “I Second That Emotion,” “I’m Crying,” “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” “My Girl,” “Cruisin” and “Tracks of My Tears.” Clapping and singing turned to roaring standing ovations during these numbers. Several of the most popular songs were written for other artists, including The Temptations and Stevie Wonder. “The Way You Do the Things You Do” was the Temptations first hit after several poorly rated releases. “Tears of a Clown” was written expressly for Stevie Wonder. Although other artists were the first to perform these numbers, they are indelibly linked to Robinson.
Robinson kept patter to a minimum and when he did speak, he told amusing stories about artists of his day, including a side-splitter about Stevie Wonder, and his start at local spots such as the Howard and Royal Theaters and Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts.
Smokey Robinson’s fans, young, old and even older, could only have their love for him boosted by last night’s performance. I, for one, am going to download several more songs that have been part of the soundtrack in my mind for more years than I care to disclose.
Running time: Two hours, without an intermission.
Smokey Robinson played for one night only at The Music Center at Strathmore-5301 Tuckerman Lane, in North Bethesda, MD. For future events at Strathmore, check their calendar of events. WHUR’s lineup of spring concerts can be found here. Howard University’s radio station call number is 96.3.
Smokey Robinson’s website.