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Concert Reviews:
Don Was Revue Delivers Detroit Heritage At Concert Of Colors

of the Oakland Press

Posted: Sunday, July 18, 2010

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DETROIT -- A few minutes before the Don Was Detroit All-Star Revue was slated to start Saturday night (July 17) at the 18th annual Concert of Colors, a fire alarm sounded, forcing participants and attendees alike to clear the Max M. Fisher Music Center.

There was no serious problem, but it was certainly a harbinger of the hot show in store for those who trooped back into the building a few minutes later.

Like its two predecessors, Detroit-born producer and Was (Not Was) founder Was' Revue was an eclectic survey of, as he put it, "the indigenous music of the tribe of Detroit." The 15 acts represented a stylistic and historical sweep of Detroit music, primarily rock and R&B, and the performances, quick as they were, provided testimony to the legendary and continuing vitality of the region's music scene.

Heritage stole the night, of course -- which was no slight to the many younger groups Was also slotted into the one-hour and 50-minute revue. In fact, the the Americana troupe Doop & the Inside Outlaws, modern rockers the Satin Peaches, the funky Motor City Horns, pop singer Mayaeni and Electric Lion Sound Wave Experiment, with its ambient, surf-flavored rock, clearly won some fans on Saturday who will certainly keep an eye out for chances to check out full shows. Only the heavy rock Bosnian expatriates Ingray squandered their Revue opportunity, playing a pro forma cover of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" rather than one of their powerhourse originals.

The Revue's veteran acts, meanwhile, rose to the occasion -- and, in many cases, overcame a sound mix that was dodgy until very late in the show. The Sun Messengers, celebrating their 30th anniversary, started the show with an original, "That's Life," that's due out later this year on the group's next album. Singer-songwriter Jere Stormer drew smiles with his topical "If You Lived Here You'd Be Homeless By Now," while Motown veteran Dennis Coffey flashed his guitar chops on his signature instrumental "Scorpio," which also allowed house band keyboardist Luis Resto some well-used solo space.

Outrageous Cherry inject some garage rock into the proceedings with "Unless" before 93-year-old blues icon Alberta Adams sounded half her age on "Detroit is My Home," which was pumped full of brassy energy by the Motor City Horns. Another guitar hero, Gary Quackenbush, led his latest incarnation of SRC through the Cream-popularized "I'm So Glad" before, in a nod to the classical environs of Orchestra Hall, tore through a hard-rocking rendition of Ravel's "Bolero." Marshall Crenshaw, meanwhile, was his sublimely melodic self on "Live and Learn" from his latest album "Jaggedland."

The concluding punctuation for the Revue was left to a pair of R&B stalwarts. Fortune Records mainstay Andre Williams was dapper and assured on his hit "Bacon Fat," with guitar solos provided by Coffey, Outrageous Cherry's Matthew Smith and Brian "Roscoe" White. Then Motown diva Kim Weston, in Supremes-worthy red gown, was joined by the whole company for "Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While)."

Was (ne Fagenson) calls the Revue "my favorite night of the year," and it's easy to see why. And he left things on a winning note, too, promising that a fourth version of the show is coming our way in 2011. Meanwhile, footage from this year's show is expected to surface during August on the Don Was Cavalcade of Recorded Music at www.mydamnchannel.com.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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