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Gladys Knight/Tito Jackson, Trent FM Arena

October 2009

Few had turned out to bid Gladys farewell and help Tito through his grief. I’d estimate 2,500, which is less than a third of the arena’s capacity.
Then again at £40 to £50 a ticket they shouldn’t have been surprised.
Or so I thought.
While it was one of the least attended shows I’ve ever seen at the arena, Gladys and Tito delivered nearly three hours of quality.
Of course, many were waiting to see what Tito would say about his younger brother. Very little as it happened.
By way of an introduction to a series of blues numbers (during which he proved himself an impressive guitarist) he said: “I definitely have the blues.” Then asked for a round of applause: “Let’s give a hand for Michael, wasn’t he great stuff?”
And the reported musical tribute he and his 11-piece band were performing on this tour was in fact a medley of Jackson 5 numbers -- Rockin’ Robin, I Want You Back, ABC and the poignant I’ll Be There. The latter prompted a standing ovation, mostly for the lead vocals of Nicole, a member of the extensive Jackson clan.
But it wasn’t designed to bring us down - Tito sported an afro wig declaring “I want to go back.” There was more goofing around with his band of “dogs” as he called them. And despite the small number of people in front of him, the man in the bright yellow suit looked to be having a ball for an hour.

Gladys Knight was no less professional if a little more Vegas (which has been home for three decades) and talkative.
Her three best known tunes -- Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me, License To Kill and Midnight Train To Georgia -- were evenly spread throughout a 110 minute set.
The range of covers dated back to 1961 (Every Beat Of My Heart) through to the early 90s (Boy II Men’s End Of The Road).
The highlight was a Motown medley with remaining Pip and elder brother Merald joining her on stage: Dancing In The Street, My Guy, My Girl, Stop In The Name Of Love, Mercy Mercy Me.
And his goofing was genuinely hilarious despite the scripted spontaneity.
Knight’s attempt to introduce each song as if it had meaning grew tiring as did her schmaltz (everything was “fabulous” or “an honour” or “special”).
But there was no denying her incredible voice.
If you chose to spend your hard-earned on The Nolans or Richard Hawley last night, you missed out on one of the shows of the year.

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