The Temptations & The Four Tops
Musical Magic, Memories and Motown at the NJPAC
A SoundPress.net Feature Article by Rich and Laura Lynch

The Temptations & The Four Tops delighted fans at the NJPAC in Newark, New Jersey on November 2, 2013. Both of these legendary vocal groups were instrumental in crafting the Motown sound of the 1960's and beyond. The Temptations & The Four Tops have many classic songs that still speak to their fans.

The Temptations & The Four Tops - Musical Magic, Memories and Motown at the NJPAC
The Temptations take the stage at the NJPAC.

"It's all about the music and the people that is the true legacy of The Temptations," states founding member Otis Williams about his band's heritage that has weathered many shifts culturally, musically and personally. The Temptations are a R&B group well respected for their hits, harmonies, clothes and chorography. They have sold tens of millions of records with tunes that have touched upon life, love, politics and social change. This award winning group has had numerous configurations in the course of their fifty plus year history but presenting catchy well coordinated concerts has remained a constant for The Temptations.

The Four Tops were also an important Motown band well loved for their blend of call and response lyrics, melodies and rhythm. They have scored plenty of hits throughout their long career that currently focuses on touring rather than recording. Interestingly, they maintained their original line-up from 1953-1997 (44 years!). Today, Abdul "Duke" Fakir is the only surviving founding member to lead the next generation of The Four Tops.

The magical mood of Motown was set as we entered the spacious atrium in the NJPAC. We heard doo-wop music echoing through the pre-show lobby as The Cameos presented their award-winning "oldies" sound. The group was decked out in purple and played an engaging set of songs including some Motown. They encouraged folks to clap, dance and sing along. The Cameos had four fine vocalists who handled the standards such as Ben E. King's "Stand By Me" with style.

The NJPAC's theater itself is a warm room of wood tones and wonderful acoustics. As we took our seats a full horn section was already in place along with a bassist, drummers, a guitarist and a keyboardist all led by a conductor. A few minutes after eight the band began playing a funky intro as The Temptations took the stage. They came out with arms swinging in unison and wearing matching striped jackets.

The Temptations set was filled with classics songs and their signature singing. "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" showcased layered vocals. The up-tempo "Do the Things You Do" was a crowd pleaser that had fans clapping along. The Temptations were often in motion as they performed more hits such as the passionate "Ain't Too Proud To Beg".

The Temptations segued smoothly through their set which also included the soulful "I Wish It Would Rain" and later a feisty and funky "Papa Was A Rolling Stone". They dedicated a number of songs to the ladies asking folks to sing along to "My Girl" and "Just My Imagination" - two tunes that really connected with the crowd.

The Temptations & The Four Tops - Musical Magic, Memories and Motown at the NJPAC
Abdul "Duke" Fakir of The Four Tops and Otis Williams of The Temptations are the last surviving members of their legendary bands.

"Get Ready" was riveting and had fans on their feet as did a sassy version of "Stay" with The Temptations adding animated moves to the music. "Treat Her Like A Lady" was lively. They closed their set with a big sounding "I'm Losing You". The band played an outro as The Temptations shook hands with some of their fans before exiting.

After a short intermission, The Four Tops took the stage utilizing a similar band set up. One singer at a time came out before all four were harmonizing. They too were wearing matching clothes and their movements were often coordinated.

"How's everybody doing tonight?," they asked before singing a beguiling "Baby, I Need Your Loving" and "Bernadette" all propelled by varied vocals and dance moves. "Same Old Song" along with "Shake Me, Wake Me" had plenty of spirited singing and swaying. They slowed it down for the beautiful ballad "(It's The Way) Nature Planned".

Abdul talked a bit about the former Four Top recalling their decades together as friends and professionals which was a fine time to play a more emotional song such as "What's Going On". The horns punctuated the potent points of the tune. The hits kept on coming with the animated "Ain't No Woman" that showcased the strong singing of The Four Tops. "Reach Out, I'll Be There" was energized with the melody and moves enhancing the hook line. They ended their engaging set with a fun sweet version of "Sugar Pie Honey Bunch."

The Temptations & The Four Tops were importation groups in the Motown era. Both lived through the civil rights movement and their music was one of many factors that helped break down the racial barriers of the period. When you hear and see the presentation of their hits one is reminded how terrific and timeless these tunes are.

With each band only having one surviving member it will be up to the next generation of artists to carry on the tradition of the Motown sound as these two vocal groups are doing. If you have an opportunity please check out The Temptations & The Four Tops not only for the legacy but for a fun and magical night of music.

The NJPAC located at 1 Central Street in Newark, New Jersey has become a cultural hub, presenting a wide range of shows such as The Temptations & The Four Tops. This state of the art facility showcases concerts, educational programs, festivals and TV shows. The NJPAC is part of Newark 's ongoing revitalization and it has hosted visits from two U.S. Presidents and the Dalai Lama. Please check http://www.njpac.org for a complete list of events at this esteemed venue.

The Temptations: Otis Williams, Ron Tyson, Terry Weeks, Joe Herndon, Bruce Williamson

The Four Tops: Abdul "Duke" Fakir, Lawrence Payton Jr., Ronnie McNeir, Harold Bonhart

The Temptations & The Four Tops - Musical Magic, Memories and Motown at the NJPAC
The Four Tops performing during their Newark, New Jersey tour stop in 2013.

Related Links: For more information on THE TEMPTATIONS & THE FOUR TOPS and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - The Temptations | The Four Tops | The Cameos | NJPAC

(Originally Published on November 04, 2013)

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