Legend Series: Smokey Robinson Melts Hearts
Smokey Robinson Stirs Up The Passion at the NYCB Theater at Westbury
For so many people just hearing the name Smokey Robinson invokes so many good memories. With a career spanning well over five decades long, his music is surely part of the soundtrack of countless amounts of people’s lives. Starting his career as lead vocalist with The Miracles, then breaking out on his own as a solo artist, Robinson has accomplished more than most people can dream of.
He is a singer, songwriter, producer, and was the Vice President at Motown for many years. He has received numerous awards including the Grammy Living Legend Award, NARAS Lifetime Achievement Award, Honorary Doctorate (Howard University), Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts Award from the President of the United States. He has also been inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame. Most recently, in 2016, he was inducted into the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame and received the Library of Congress’ Gershwin Prize.
It was a beautiful summer evening on August 24th that Robinson paid a visit to the NYCB Theater at Westbury located in Westbury, NY. The theater was filled to almost full capacity with an extremely diverse fan base. It was made up of all ages, but it was notable that a lot of them were of the same age group as Robinson himself and that they have been following him throughout his whole career. It was awesome to see so many people from all walks of life come together in one place.
Joining Robinson for this evening’s performance was Greg Moore (Guitar), Gary Foote (Bass), Tony Lewis (Drums), Demetrious Pappas (Keyboards), S’Vone Ringo (Keyboards), Kenny Gioffre (Sax/Flute), Lindsay Walker (Vocals), Amon Bourne (Vocals), and Karri Benoit (Vocals). Robinson has played this theater in the round many times, but this was the first time he would be performing it in the half round. With the band on the stage with him, it limited the space he had to get his groove on but that did not affect him in one bit.
Right from the start Robinson and the band had the ladies screaming and everyone up on their feet singing along with him to “Being With You”. Without hesitation the beat kept going and they did “I Second That Emotion” and “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me”. He then took it down a notch with “Quiet Storm”. Taking time to show the audience his love, he spoke about how much he enjoyed their enthusiasm for him and his music and said, “You all New Yorked me!” Early in his career he spent a lot of time here and played the Apollo Theater quite often, so he knows very well about the love the New York fans have for him. Then he briefly talked about the passing of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, and dedicated “Ooo Baby Baby” to her.
After such a touching song, Robinson goes, “We came to have some fun!” and while removing his jacket and tie he continued with, “We came to boogie!” He started doing some very sultry dance moves and the ladies got in an uproar, many of his fans yelling, “We love you Smokey!” He stopped and spoke with the audience as he walked about the stage while making eye contact with many of his fans while he talked. He spoke about days of past and his time with Motown and many of the legends he had the pleasure to work with, one of them being The Temptations. This lead into a compilation of “The Way You Do The Things You Do”, “Get Ready”, and “My Girl”.
The last three songs had everyone in the house singing along to every word but the next one would have their full attention. Robinson informed everyone that he has been studying Spanish the last few years and that “everything sounds sexy when you say it in Spanish.” He performed “More Love”, mostly in Spanish, and said it will be released on a new record sometime soon.
Then he shared more of his personal history. His childhood growing up with his mom and two sisters and how there was always music playing, all kinds of music. He recalled the way we would listen to music, from 78’s to 45’s and even 8 track tapes. He talked about the Timeless Love collection and performed the crowd pleasing “Fly Me to the Moon.” On the note of 45’s he talked about the “A side” being the single that would get the radio airplay but often the “B side” was just as good. He sat down on a stool and said “We are going to play some of those B sides for you now.” They played “Give Her Up” and “Keep Me”.
Now it was time for Robinson to really turn up the heat with the sexy “I’ve Made Love To You A Thousand Times.” The way he danced and moved his hips really got to his female fans and they had no hesitation yelling out their feelings for him. Now with everyone already up on their feet from the last song, he got them all dancing along with, “Just to See Her.” Then they were all singing along with him to “The Tracks of My Tears.”
The last song, and grand finale of the night, was “Crusin’”. Lasting about fifteen minutes, they not only played the song but he included the audience in a sing along competition to see which side of the venue was singing louder. This included him inviting two female audience members, one from each side of the house, to represent their sides in the competition. Everyone had smiles on their faces and eagerly participated in the fun. Once the song way over Robinson said his goodnights and shook hands with many of his fans in the first few rows before leaving the stage.
Robinson has a way of magically joining the audience together. He not only performs for them but he performs with them. He interacted with them throughout the whole evening and made them feel as if we were all one. Not only was Robison completely on point the whole night, he sang amazingly beautiful while having everyone melting in the palm of his hands. It is so much more than the experience he has from performing all these years; it is true raw talent that comes from deep inside of him. That along with the amazingly talented musicians he surrounds himself with, it is so much more than could be put into words.
He is still actively touring and has dates posted on his website that go into 2019, even making a visit to San Juan, PR in mid January for the 2019 Soul Train Cruise. Even if you have had the chance to see him perform in the past, do not miss the chance to see him again. If you have never had the pleasure, do not miss your chance to see this amazing legend play live, he is truly like no other.
Sat 8 PM PST6,375 guests