Review: The Four Tops and the Temptations @ Manchester Arena

Detroit’s Motown hit England’s North West this week as the Four Tops and the Temptations brought their catalogue of classic tunes to Manchester Arena.

Being a millennium baby, this gig really shouldn’t be for me – however my Dad is a soul fanatic, and throughout my childhood it was impossible to escape the smooth tunes of the 60s.

Because of this, I’m a huge soul fan, and consequently the youngest person in the crowd by at least two generations. 

First up on Tuesday night were Tavares, the band of brothers who rose to fame in the mid 70s and helped set the tone for the rest of the night with their array of hits.

They came out to the disco beat of It Only Takes a Minute, which had a resurgence when Take That achieved their first top 10 hit with a cover of it in 1992.

Caped in sparkling black sequin blazers, it was as if they hadn’t aged a day as they danced their way through their records.

One of the brothers instantly pledged his allegiance to the crowd, bellowing: “Manchester United!”, which gave everyone in the arena a laugh.

Tavares were clearly excited to be performing to the Manchester crowd, with Feliciano Tavares, nicknamed Butch, praising the lord before breaking into an impromptu dance.

Their 35-minute set felt far too short as the crowd danced along to their final song, their version of The Bee Gees’ More Than A Woman.

Butch was like a kid in a sweet shop and carried on dancing after the rest of the band had left the stage, chucking his sequin blazer to the floor and doing the splits twice. Pretty impressive for an 80-year-old bloke!

Up next were co-headliners the Temptations. They showed they weren’t too proud to beg, with their introduction including a comedic request to buy ten or 11 copies of their new album.

Their set didn’t disappoint fans, dipping into their huge archive of hits and performing Get Ready, Ain’t Too Proud to Beg and Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.

Despite only having one original member, Otis Williams, they still looked the part, donning dark pink suits with salmon pink shirts and providing a tasty selection of synchronised dance moves.

They concluded their set with what they called “The Temptations national anthem” – the timeless chart-topping classic – My Girl.

There wasn’t a single person in the venue not singing along, giving the crowd some much needed sunshine on a rainy day.

And last, but certainly not least, came the Four Tops. The quartet, who pioneered the Motown sound in the 60s, started their set by dedicating it to Renaldo Benson, Lawrence Payton and Levi Stubbs – three of the original band who have sadly passed away over the last 20 years.

The only original member left is Abdul ‘Duke’ Fakir, but he is joined by Lawrence Payton’s son of the same name and two other members.

The group followed in the same suit as Tavares, wearing navy blue sequin jackets which glistened under the rainbow array of spotlights.

They opened with 1988 hit Loco in Acapulco, unfortunately the sound mixing didn’t seem quite right and the vocals were a little too loud over the backing, but this didn’t stop the crowd going loco throughout.

With only a 45-minute set, they rattled through the hits, playing Baby I Need Your Loving, Bernadette and It’s The Same Old Song in quick succession.

After these three, Duke pulled up a stool and joked: “I always look forward to this break, I used to just breeze right through it – not anymore.”

It was clear the years had taken their toll on the Four Tops more so than with the previous two acts, with the dance moves taking more of a back seat.

Duke afterwards revealed that he’d recently broken his hip, hence the stool, but comforted the crowd by insisting it had no effect on his voice.

At one point one of the band leaned over the barrier, nearly touching fingers with one of the enthusiastic audience members, accidentally recreating Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam as he sang “that girl is my baby” to her.

They topped off the night with three of the biggest soul tunes of all time – Reach out, I’ll Be There, Standing In the Shadows of Love and lastly I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) which went down a treat. They were met with raucous applause as they left the stage.

The short and punchy hit-filled sets across the night had me smiling all the way through, and the long walk home in the rain was made all the more bearable by skipping along to the unforgettable hooks of the Motown big-hitters.

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