Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
No doubt about it, Gladys Knight gave tons of love to the audience at Proctors in Schenectady last Friday night, and they gave it right back to her… tenfold!
For this amazing lady of song – undeniably an American musical icon – Knight looked gorgeous when she stepped out on stage and took a bow to a house-wide standing ovation. Everybody there knew they were in the presence of musical royalty. And they were ecstatic to be her loyal listening subjects for the night.
Kicking off her set with “The Nitty Gritty,” Knight glided effortlessly along the front of the stage and sang with the verve and passion of a woman half her age.
By the time she launched into the third song of her show, “The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me,” much of the audience joined in with hundreds of voices in a uniform chorus, singing right along with her.
Throughout the evening Knight, her five-piece band and a quartet of back-up singers enthralled the audience with classic gems from her personal songbook, which has become a part of the American pop and soul canon. Chart-topping hits like “I’ve Got to Use My Imagination,” “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” and “Neither One of Us (Wants to be the First to Say Goodbye)” rolled magnificently from her lips to kiss and embrace the audience.
Just past the halfway mark in her performance, Knight tipped her hat to the great musical legends of the 20th Century (and in many ways, her early influences) by singing a jazz medley – the unifying theme of her latest album, “Before Me” – which paid homage to jazz legends Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Lena Horne.
And when they heard the first notes of Knight’s number one smash hit, “Midnight Train to Georgia,” as the encore, the audience swelled up into a roar of applause and adulation.
In a word, Gladys Knight’s performance at Proctors was sheer magic.
Steve Barnes’ review at The Times Union
Excerpt from Brian McElhiney’s review at The Daily Gazette: “As much fun as the upbeat numbers were, Knight’s vocals really shone on the ballads. ‘Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me’ early in the set showed off a dynamic range most singers could barely touch, while the uplifting ‘I Hope You Dance’ climaxed with powerful vocal acrobatics during the song’s hook. ‘Where We Were’ was perhaps the best of the slower numbers, earning Knight her first standing ovation. Halfway through the show, Knight announced that she is working on a new solo album, ‘Another Journey,’ and promptly jumped into the first single. The track was a bit out of place amidst the classic soul and funk delivered throughout the rest of the set, with violin highlighting a skittering hip-hop beat. The vocal line was pure Gladys, though, and earned massive applause.”