If you need a lesson in making a grand entrance, look no further than Motown idol Diana Ross.
First, employ a world-class drummer to give you a thunderous drumroll the audience can feel vibrating in their joints. Then, have the rest of your top-notch band provide dreamy, cinematic instrumentals. Follow it up by dramatically dropping a sheer mesh screen that hung in front of the band.
And just for fun, sing a few notes before you start walking on stage to really build the excitement.
Ross used all these tricks and more on Wednesday night at American Music Theatre when she kicked off her career-spanning set with the ever-fitting “I’m Coming Out.”
Covered in baby pink sequins and heaps of chiffon, she was a vision fabulous beyond compare. Her vocals were every bit as grand as one would hope, and her six-piece band and four background singers were more than capable of doing her catalog justice. The arrangements were true to the studio versions that so many listeners grew up loving. While the show didn’t stray far from what was expected, no reasonable person would want it to.
The set was an unrelenting barrage of hit after hit, leaving you at a loss if you were hoping to find a quieter moment in the intermission-less show to sneak in a bathroom break.
Ross performed the classics from her time in the seminal group The Supremes, such as “Stop! In the Name of Love,” “Come See About Me” and “You Can’t Hurry Love.” There was one notable absence, though, as Ross didn’t perform “Baby Love.”
She played songs from the solo albums that followed in the ‘70s, like “Upside Down” and “Touch Me in the Morning.” Ross also paid tribute to the films she starred in with “Ease on Down the Road” from “The Wiz,” “Don’t Explain” from the Billie Holiday biopic “Lady Sings the Blues,” and “Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To)” from the 1975 film.
Ross threw in some wildly fun covers too, like “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” And there was a brief and surprising interpolation of DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win” during the show’s big finale, “I Will Survive.”
While there were no intermissions, Ross went off stage during a handful of musical interludes, always to return in a different, blindingly beautiful gown. There was a fire-orange red number framed with feathers, a lavender piece with fuchsia chiffon, and a heavenly white dress at the show’s end. She sometimes had a small lace hand fan with her, too. She grasped it in one hand and sang into the microphone with another, and, at one point, as her band member took solos, she gracefully fanned herself in the background. Oh, to be that glamourous.
For being such a legend, Ross was refreshingly personable during her set. She made an effort to interact with the audience throughout the show, a highlight being when she asked if anyone else in the room was 75. (Ross herself just turned 75 in March.) A gentleman up front piped up, and shared that he was just 7 days older than Ross.
“Oh, so you’re a Pisces,” Ross said. “I’m an Aries.”
She asked him if he could do the twist as her band provided a groove, and they danced together. She often encouraged the rest of the audience to dance too.
“The body likes to move,” Ross said. “It stays around a long time if it moves.”