Spending An Evening In Concert With Gladys Knight at The Royal Concert Hall Nottingham on Sunday 3rd June 2016

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

Gladys Knight, the Empress of Soul, whose talent carried her from a 1950’s TV contest to R & B’s Chitlin’ Circuit in the segregated south of 1960’s America and on through Motown, 70’s disco and 80’s pop, came to The Royal Concert Hall last night and entertained a packed audience from the off.

It was a no frills affair, with only a couple of candelabras on stage to keep her five piece band and four backing singers company. There was no merchandise or programmes on sale, just a petite figure brimming with Southern charm. This was an evening purely about the music, though in truth not every song carried over as well as it could have, due in part to her backing band being crushingly loud at times.

But opening the show with medleys of All I Do, Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground) and Nitty Gritty, together with a full version of her last number one hit, 1987’s Love Overboard, she had this audience immediately in the palm of her hand where they stayed all night.

There was no doubt that the soulful sweep of her vocals was still there to be heard, and it rose to the fore in places, especially in set highlight, Licence To Kill and a raucous I’ve Got To Use My Imagination.

She was equally at home with more contemporary songs as one of her backing singers young enough to be her grandson joined her for Bruno Mars’ If I Was Your Man which seamlessly blended into Knight’s sultry If I Were Your Woman, whilst Sam Smith’s Stay With Me was very well received.

She simply smouldered with the Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me, whilst the audience were her ‘Pips’ for the luscious, lovelorn Midnight Train To Georgia. It was a mass sing along which carried one of her biggest hits I Heard It Through The Grapevine, whilst a hushed audience hung on her every word as they were treated to Help Me Make It Through The Night.

Having been to her 2009 Farewell Tour, it was great that this sprightly 72 year old had had a change of heart. Welcome back Ms Knight.