How fantastic have the last two nights been? Living legend, Diana Ross, proved once again that she is indeed “The Boss” & turned an eager Chicago audience “upside down, inside out, and round and round!” Ms. Ross spent that last two, sold out nights headlining at the historic Windy City Chicago Theater. Iconic doesn’t do justice when describing and explaining what an enchanting and magical performer Ross is, every inch a SUPER STAR! Each evening played a solid yet brisk 90 minute set of her classic hits, spanning every step of her renowned career catalog.
Both nights began with Diana sauntering on stage in a floor length, turquoise sequin gown with an impeccably matching turquoise and rhinestone cape over top, quickly discarded after her quintessential signature opening number “I’m Coming Out.” After briefly chatting with the audience at the opening song’s conclusion, Ms. Ross tossed that infamous lion’s mane of hair and plunged into a melody of the Supremes greatest hits; “I love you More Today Than Yesterday,” “My World is Empty Without You,” “Come See About Me,” “Baby Love,” “Stop! In the Name of Love” and “You Can’t Hurry Love.” The appreciative audience sang and clapped along enthusiastically. The show stopper of this first set was her gorgeous rendition of “Touch Me in the Morning.” Starting slow and building to a frenzied climax by the song’s end. Her final song in this initial set was the Supremes classic “Love Child.” My sitting slightly left of the stage proved advantageous, as this was the side of the stage Diana went to for her numerous and impressive costume quick changes.
Her next set of songs celebrate the zenith of Diana’s solo success, flashing back to the decedent 1970’s. Emerging on stage in a lime green fringe jacket and opulent black beaded gown, Ross was in full swing during the definitive disco anthems “The Boss” and “It’s My House.” Finishing this celebratory segment with “Upside Down,” the audience, myself included, went wild. Slowing the pace down, Ross entertained next, with a sexy, breathy, rendition of the sultry hit “Love Hangover” mixed with the amped up the fun of her 1990’s dance hit “Take Me Higher.” Ross concluded her second set with The Wiz classic “Ease on Down the Road.” Leaving the stage for another costume change, her trio of talented back up singers, with their delicious harmonies, commanded the stage for a brief audience sing-a-long. Being in the 5th row, I was sending them as much energy as they were giving to me. We had a collective blast.
Diana returned to the stage in a heavily beaded, navy blue gown and matching wrap, for her most mature set of the evening. Crooning a lovely rendition of “The Look of Love,” heavy on the sultry saxophone solos, Ross then added some Billie Holiday songs from her Oscar nominated performance Lady Sings the Blues. Her rendition of “Don’t Explain“ went of for over ten solid minutes, letting each member of her horn section have a spotlighted magnificent solo. Mid-song, Diana pulled out a fan to cool herself on stage, of course dyed to perfectly match her gown. This woman certainly knows how to accessorize. A flirty Ross cooed “is it hot out there? It is hot up here.” Kicking the show back up again for the up-tempo “Why Do Fools Fall in Love,” I was back up on my feet with almost everyone in my section. The roller coaster momentum and pace proved both amazing and fun.
The most impressive of her costumes changes happened next, a white and gold beaded gown with a substantial white wrap draped on top! The crowd erupted in cheers to acknowledge this Grammy winner as she resembled a glamorous, beaded cloud, sent directly from heaven. After the jubilation subsided, Ross began this gentler set with just two songs, the “Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To)” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” The walls were reverberating from the zealous audience singing along. A remarkable moment from an iconic artist. With another round of thunderous applause at the set’s conclusion, Ross left the stage to allow for a fifth and final costume change.
The finishing set of the show began when Ross emerged in a beaded tangerine orange gown with matching cape, decorated with large tangerine feathers at the edge of the sleeves. Just a simple girl with a dream? More like Diva with a Capital “D!” Mid-song, she pulled out another fan, this one dyed tangerine, naturally, to again match her gown, and began to slowly fan herself to audience whistles. She then busted open the metaphoric doors of The Chicago Theater with a jubilant version of the Gloria Gaynor camp classic “I Will Survive.” Diana remade the hit in the mid 1990’s and had success with it on the Billboard dance charts. At the conclusion of this energetic melody, she again chatted with the audience, thanking them for the years of support. A humble megawatt star. On the first night, she closed the show with “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand)” and on the second, she serenaded the eager audience with a stunning rendition of “Endless Love” then concluded with “Reach Out and Touch.” Before leaving the stage, Ross kicked off the chorus of “I Will Survive” one more time and then offered a gracious good night while waving good-bye.
Diana Ross is such a pro! Both nights, her show started promptly at 8 pm (take that Madonna, who made us wait over 2 hours to start her show) and both nights we were wrapped by 9:30pm. Sharing hits that spanned the lexicon of her lush and rich career, the tsunami of fans leaving the Chicago Theater were all smiles on their way out. In a world full of disposable pop stars, Ross owned the stage and her faithful audience like she has owned popular culture and fashion for the last five decades. While pop chart success and radio air play might prove fleeting for any artist north of fourty, this 70 year old icon showed no signs of stopping. Both nights spent with Ms. Ross proved to be outstanding, delightful and sequin encrusted fabulous!
Diana Ross performed at the Chicago Theater April 30, 2014