Gladys Knight And Natalie Cole At The Greek Theatre
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By Will Dawson
When I read that Natalie Cole and Gladys Knight would be performing at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on July 28 — the amphitheater that was featured in the 2010 film, Get Him To The Greek — the article had me at "hello." I immediately secured a ticket, knowing I'd not only get to see a concert at the legendary landmark, but also hear two GRAMMY-winning R&B legends grace the crowd with their greatest hits.
First up was nine-time GRAMMY winner Cole, who arrived with a 16-piece band, including 10 horns and three background singers. The Los Angeles native, admittedly nervous performing in her hometown, stood center stage in a stunning black sequined gown and glided effortlessly through her catalog, beginning with Etta James' "Something's Got A Hold On Me," followed by the GRAMMY-winning "Sophisticated Lady (She's A Different Lady)" and the classic "I've Got Love On My Mind" with her electrifying band.
Cole made sure to acknowledge a few of her peers that left us far too soon, paying homage through songs to Luther Vandross ("A House Is Not A Home"), Donna Summer ("She Works Hard For The Money"), James ("At Last"), Michael Jackson ("Human Nature"), and Whitney Houston ("I Have Nothing"/"I'm Every Woman"). Her final two selections, the GRAMMY-winning "This Will Be" and GRAMMY-nominated "Our Love," proved to be a perfect closing to a spectacular set.
It took exactly 20 minutes (I counted) for the stage to be transformed for the night's headliner, Knight. The seven-time GRAMMY winner brought high energy from the outset, with her background singers dancing their way across the stage to a cover of Prince's "Sign 'O' The Times." Knight soon followed, possessing a strut of her own as she covered Sade's "Soldier Of Love," New Edition's "Can You Stand The Rain" and Mary J. Blige's "Just Fine."
It was clear from those first few moments that the 68-year-old Knight, a contestant on last season's "Dancing With The Stars," had added a choreographer to the payroll. Her moves were fast and fierce. This was especially evident as she sang her GRAMMY-winning "Love Overboard," which included a dance interlude during the song's breakdown.
The rest of the evening was pure bliss for the sold-out crowd, with most in attendance singing along to every note, including classics such as "If I Were Your Woman," "You're The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me," and the GRAMMY-winning "Neither One Of Us (Wants To Be The First To Say Goodbye)." Knight sprinkled in a few more covers, including renditions of Karyn White's "Superwoman" and Barbra Streisand's "The Way We Were." She then surprised the crowd with a brand-new single titled "I Love You," which was met with overwhelming approval.
The night ended with two more classics, both performed with help from her big brother and former Pips member Bubba Knight. He ran through the Motown classic "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" with a strong voice before assuming his background duties as Knight sent everyone home happy with her GRAMMY-winning staple, "Midnight Train To Georgia."
From beginning to end, the show was the perfect midsummer's night treat: two legends in a legendary space. And while it's true that the concert had me at "hello," even when it was over, it was hard to say goodbye.
"Something's Got A Hold On Me" (Etta James cover)
"Sophisticated Lady (She's A Different Lady)"
"I've Got Love On My Mind"
"Miss You Like Crazy"
"I'm Catching Hell"
"A House Is Not A Home" (Luther Vandross cover)
"She Works Hard For The Money" (Donna Summer cover)
"At Last" (Etta James cover)
"Human Nature" (Michael Jackson cover)
"I Have Nothing" (Whitney Houston cover)
"I'm Every Woman" (Whitney Houston cover)
"This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)"
"Sign 'O' The Times" (Prince cover)
"Soldier Of Love" (Sade cover)
"Can You Stand The Rain" (New Edition cover)
"Just Fine" (Mary J. Blige cover)
"Still Such A Thing"
"If I Were Your Woman"
"You're The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me"
"I've Got To Use My Imagination"
"Superwoman" (Karyn White cover)
"The Way We Were" (Barbra Streisand cover)
"I Love You"
"I Hope You Dance" (Lee Ann Womack cover)
"Neither One Of Us"
"I Heard It Through The Grapevine"
"Midnight Train To Georgia"
(A journalist for the past 20 years, New York native Will Dawson serves as the GRAMMY.com Gospel Community Blogger. Now a resident of Los Angeles, Dawson hopes this new life chapter will open up even more opportunities to explore and cover what he loves most: music. You can follow him on Twitter and at www.dawsonink.com.)