Jake’s Take’s Concert Reviews: Darlene Love in New York City

(Photo property of Project Publicity)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

The legendary Darlene Love has entertained audiences for over 68 years!

Throughout her impeccable career, Darlene Love has recorded five solo studio albums. Also, she also recorded for legendary music producer Phil Spector and as a backing vocalist recorded with Cher, Dionne Warwick, Frank Sinatra, Sir Tom Jones, and Sam Cooke.

In addition to the recording industry, Darlene Love received numerous big breaks as she took her talents to Broadway.  Ms. Love appeared in several productions including Leader of the Pack, the 1994 musical revival of Grease, and portrayed Motormouth Maybelle in Hairspray. Also, she also portrayed Trish Murtaugh in all four Lethal Weapon films and was profiled on the Oscar- and Grammy-winning documentary: 20 Feet from Stardom.

Last night, Darlene Love returned to B.B. King’s Blues Club & Grill for an incredible concert, and in Ms. Love’s opinion, the Times Square location is considered her home.  Her set started with a retrospective video that featured introductions from Bruce Springsteen, David Letterman, and Wendy Williams. The video touched on some of the highlights including Ms. Love’s performance with Sir Tom Jones to Bette Midler inducting her into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

After the video, Ms. Love made a grand entrance and dove directly into “Among the Believers,” the first track off of her 2015 album: Introducing Darlene Love. That song set the tone for the evening, and throughout the concert, Ms. Love shared incredible stories with the audience. One story that she shared was when legendary rocker Steven van Zandt approached Columbia Records to sign her. However, the executive stated that they have “never signed anyone over 20.”

Throughout the concert, Darlene Love proved both that age is just a number and the Columbia Records executive wrong as she delighted the crowd with songs that were written by her friends, who were also iconic rockers. From Linda Perry’s “Love Kept Us Foolin’ Around” to the legendary songwriting team of Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil’s “Sweet Freedom,” Darlene Love gave impeccable vocal performances throughout the night.  I have to admit I geeked out when Ms. Love sang “Little Liar,” one of my favorite tracks from Introducing Darlene Love. Words cannot describe how much I truly enjoyed hearing the Joan Jett and Desmond Child-penned tune live.

She also performed several classics from her legendary songbook. Fans sang along with Ms. Love and her team as they performed “He’s Sure the Boy I Love,” “He’s A Rebel,” and “Today I Met the Boy I’m Gonna Marry.”  Ms. Love also gave her three backing vocalists: Milton Vann, Baritone McKenzie, and former Harlette Ula Hedwig, who has been working with Ms. Love for over 35 years. The trio performed an epic cover of Marvin Gaye’s “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You).” As the ladies took a brief break, Milton Vann delivered a rousing rendition of Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come.” His vocal control was unbelievable as he astonished the crowd with a performance that would have been worthy of both a four-chair turn and the Golden Buzzer.  As I questioned why record labels had not signed this incredible talent, Ms. Love returned to the stage and added that since the likes of Cher and Sir Tom Jones knew that she could “SANG,” Ms. Love wanted to reciprocate by giving her singers the chance to shine!

The concert neared the home stretch with a tribute to Darlene Love’s longtime friend and late music legend: Marvin Gaye. Milton Vann joined her for two epic duets of the Ashford and Simpson-penned “You’re All I Need to Get By” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” Both Baritone and Ula joined the duo as they performed “Marvelous” and ended the night with a rousing cover of “River Deep Mountain High,” that brought the BB King’s Blues Club & Grill audience to its feet.

Final thoughts & grade: It was a privilege to watch Darlene Love perform live. Her spectacular vocals that would put some of today’s pop and R&B performers to shame.  Through her superb storytelling abilities, Ms. Love also took the audiences on a historical journey that connected them with popular music history. If you want to have a career in the recording industry, you should check out Ms. Darlene Love in concert, because she will give you a master class on how to perform and interact with your fans. Brava, Ms. Love! A+

Copyright 2020 Jacob Elyachar