April 14, 2013

Special Occasion: Smokey Robinson Live in Florida

Smokey Robinson, 4/10/2013, Mahaffey Theater (photo: Donald Gibson)
Smokey Robinson may very well be the smoothest, most sensual singer/songwriter ever. The man oozes intimacy. Not sex explicitly, but rather the rush of attraction and togetherness, a bit of sweet talk whispered between sweethearts in the dark. Marvin wanted to get it on. Smokey wants you, baby, to come close.

At 73 Robinson still exudes a singular passion and, with his falsetto in fine form this past Wednesday night in St. Petersburg, he seduced a sold-out Mahaffey Theater audience for two solid hours. 

After opening with a trio of expected but nonetheless exhilarating oldies—“Going to a Go-Go,” “I Second That Emotion,” “You Really Got A Hold On Me”—Robinson led his nine-piece band into “Quiet Storm,” establishing the mood of the music to come.

Indeed it was a feast for love-song lovers, “grown-folks’” music it’s sometimes called, and Robinson obliged with highlights (“Being With You,” “Ooo Baby Baby,” “The Tracks of My Tears”) from virtually every phase of his career. 

Other standout moments included a medley of songs he’d long ago composed for the Temptations (“The Way You Do the Things You Do,” “Get Ready,” “My Girl”) along with selections from his underrated 2009 LP, Time Flies When You're Having Fun—besides the sultry original, “Love Bath,” Robinson delivered an exquisite cover of “Don't Know Why,” penned by Jesse Harris and made most familiar by Norah Jones—which suitably complemented his cache of classics.

“At this time of my life,” Robinson said at one point, “I’m having the time of my life.”

The impermanence of it all—the significance of Smokey Robinson and his music, his history—wasn't lost on this audience, which paid rapt attention whenever he offered up memories of Motown, of old friends long since gone, reflections of the way life used to be. 

“Cruisin’” brought us back once more before the curtain fell. Once more it felt like old times, good times. Thanks for the ride, Smokey. Thanks for everything.