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Gladys Knight (CLOSED)
By Chuck Rounds
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Gladys Knight is playing inside the main showroom at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino. The evening is a musical tribute to her life, her spirit, and her ability to overcome all obstacles. Her easy going style and presence are a joy to watch; and her voice is as beautiful as ever. Knight delivers an excellent performance and an enjoyable evening.
The showroom at the Flamingo is a great place for Knight to perform. No only is it a good size for a headliner, it is also where she and the "Pips" made their headlining debut many years ago. Knight comments on her life having come full circle, and how by getting back to where she began, it has helped her find herself again...and we are glad that she did.
As a performer, Knight puts the audience as ease almost immediately. We sit back and enjoy watching her. When she smiles, we smile with her. When she comments that she really likes a song, we automatically like it as well. She says that she learned a lot about embracing an audience from seeing and working with a lot of other great performers. Her current show proves that she was a good student.
The evening is rounded out with a bit of comic relief provided by her brother, and former Pip, Bubba Knight. He appears in the showroom looking for the other Pips and ready to perform the standard back-up for Gladys--the joke being that he hasnít realized that Gladys has gone solo. Itís not the greatest premise, but they do get some mileage out of it. The comedy and the banter between Gladys and Bubba oftentimes seems forced, and Bubba treads into the ridiculous to get a smile on our faces. The best comedy comes, though, when Bubba performs the Pips back-up routine by himself. We can imagine the other Pips there and see the absurdity of the one-man back-up.
Knight is supported by a seven-piece band and several back-up singers. Each of these performers are excellent musicians and do their jobs well. One of the highlights of the evening was when they all got together and performed a medley of Motown tunes. The depth and range of each of these performers became apparent.
The evening includes a broad repertoire of songs. We hear a little gospel, a little soul, country music, and a lot of our favorites. Knight freely shares with us her spirit and her beliefs. I was really pleased when she also gave everyone an update on where the other Pips were and what they were doing. It is still tough to think of Gladys Knight, and not think of the Pips, and we do wonder what has happened to them.
The evening with Gladys Knight is a joyful one. We get a lot from this performer beyond just her voice and talent. She brings to this show her spirit and her heart as well.