Gig review: Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, Glasgow

Motown legend Martha Reeves
Motown legend Martha Reeves
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“IT’S GLASGOW – you’ll never understand me, hen!” And with that one well-oiled fan’s enthusiastic but futile hollering at our host – which required translating by her Scottish saxophonist – ended.

Martha Reeves & the Vandellas - Oran Mor, Glasgow

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“Pardon?” the Motown legend retorted. “I’ve been coming to Glasgow since 1962!” Touché Martha Reeves.

This Alabaman one-time one-woman hit machine’s pre-Christmas visits to Scotland are becoming a much-loved seasonal institution – like a soulful female Santa Claus she popped in to this same venue on almost this exact same night last December and deposited similar amounts of joy.

At 72-years-old, Reeves’ once silky strong vocals don’t come as easy as they once did, and that’s putting it generously. When she really cut loose during a channelling of The Miracles version of O Holy Night, Oran Mor’s stained-glass windows may have quivered. But she remains a pure-bred entertainer of the highest order, capable of making a crowd feel almost inordinately welcome. Not to mention still daringly able to get away with wearing a too-small boob-tube.

“I didn’t bring The Vandellas, because I have you,” Reeves explained as to the absence of her backing singers, and you got what she meant as the likes of Nowhere To Run To, Jimmy Mack and (Love Is Like A) Heatwave practically sung themselves. Any lingering doubts as to Reeves’ credentials as an honorary Glaswegian were dispelled completely when she downed a glass of champagne, powered into a party version of Dancing In The Streets, then led the crowd in a rowdy acapella chorus of Jingle Bells, as several hundred peoples’ Christmases all seemed to come early and at once.