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Story and photos by Andy ArgyrakisEvery couple of years, Smokey Robinson hits the road and he's never one to disappoint with his increasingly passionate performances. Though not everything he touched turned to gold at a sold out Venue at Horseshoe Casino, he still performed a mostly solid showcase of everything from Miracles' milestones to solo songs, new material and tunes he wrote for other artists.
Though it would be easy to assume 71-year-old would be on auto-pilot these days, Robinson's still recording new music regularly and constantly switches up the live show. His latest studio CD is "Time Flies When You're Having Fun" (Robso Records), though he also just dropped the retrospective of the past and present "Now and Then" (available exclusively at Cracker Barrel oddly enough).
However, the velvety-voiced crooner connected the most with material from the '60s, which was nothing short of timeless (and the audience would've likely welcomed even more). Golden oldies like "Going To a Go-Go," "I Second That Emotion," "You Really Got a Hold on Me" and "The Tears of a Clown" naturally earned the best response and never sounded stale courtesy of Robinson's pitch-perfect pipes, backed by a well-oiled six piece backing band and three supporting singers.
Later career crests like the romantic "Being With You" and the yearning "Just To See Her" also hit the spot, though aside from the charming "Time Flies," the other new tunes fell flat. Back to back placement of the ballads "Love Bath" and "That Place" were sleepy, while the former was surprisingly tacky and way out of step with his songwriting sophistication. Speaking of age-inappropriate moments, Robinson went overboard on the personal hip swiveling and suggestive movements with a pair of steamy dancers, (especially considering they looked more than half his age). He could've also skipped out on the skin tight leather pants, though at least he's still slim and trim.
Thankfully he made up for those missteps with a few fun stories about Motown's golden era accompanied by the singles they inspired, including medley of tunes he wrote for The Temptations ("The Way You Do the Things You Do," "Get Ready" and "My Girl"). The finale of "Crusin'" also started out strong, but eventually fizzled when two fans were brought on stage for a long-winded audience sing-a-long. Filler aside, Robinson is still nothing short of legendary with an eternal songbook that he still sings elegantly, though hopefully next time, he'll let the songs simply speak for themselves.
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