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Story and photos by Andy ArgyrakisBetween his series of singles with The Miracles, a successful solo career, writing several smashes for other artists and even holding an executive position Smokey Robinson is the undisputed "King of Motown." Even at 68, that legacy burns brighter than it ever has before, allowing the living legend to still pack houses to capacity and captivate with a blend of ultra-smooth soul and heart on sleeve sincerity. Along with a six piece band, three background singers and two dancers, the crooner of the ages nestled perfectly into the breathtaking confines of the Rialto Square Theatre and his tunes seemed tailor made to play such an acoustically satisfying hall.
If there was a common thread that tied his Miracles and individual material together, it was the idea of timelessness. Sure, the bulk of Robinson's cuts may have come out of the Motor City during the 1960s, '70s and even a handful in the '80s, but they've since inspired virtually ever R&B, hip-hopper and even rapper to date. And there was plenty to present throughout a two hour set, such as the iconic staples "Going to a Go-Go," "I Second That Emotion" and "You've Really Got a Hold On Me," which still found the star nailing all his notes just like he did back in the day.
Several selections were also flanked with a theatrical appeal, with "Quiet Storm" playing out like a romantic serenade, "Tears of a Clown" enhanced by some sensual dance steps from his female backers and "Being With You" earning the most intimate moment of the evening as Robinson and a background singer switched between English choruses and Spanish verses. Now that he's shed the silly braids that debuted on his 2004 tour, a shorter hairstyle made the headliner look the part of the seductive sultan when belting out bedroom ballads "More Love" and "Mirage."
But the mood was at its ultimate high during the seemingly endless streak of golden oldies, which ranged from the perpetually peppy "Just To See Her Again" to the pensive "The Tracks of My Tears" and the enduring sing-a-long "Crusin.'" Whereas many of his peers from the label have either passed away or are well past their prime, Robinson really is at the top of his game and still cruises through the classics like no other.
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