“With this new thing that’s going on, we don’t get the chance to communicate like we once did,” mused Gladys Knight, in one of her many wide-roaming monologues. “What’s it called?” she pondered, turning to her trio of much younger backing singers so they could help jog her memory. “Yes, social media!”
Gladys Knight, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall ****
Not for the legendary Empress of Soul the newfangled baubles of modernity. It’s heavier, more profoundly human matters that concerned this 75-year-old Atlanta, Georgia balladeer, throughout a show which felt more like one long, big-hearted soliloquy on love, life, compassion and connection, interrupted by the occasional song, more than it did a concert in the more mundane sense.
It took a few numbers for her ten-piece band and her still richly potent voice to warm up – a grandstanding version of her 1989 James Bond theme Licence to Kill felt like the tipping point. But when Knight started laying on the heavy, heavy hitters – Jim Weatherly’s You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me, Kris Kristofferson’s Help Me Make It Through The Night, Carole King’s You Make Me Feel (Like A Natural Woman) to name just three – you could practically feel a sharp intake of breath throughout the room with the opening bars of each new song.
It took the mighty Midnight Train to Georgia right at the end to finally haul the audience on to their feet for a dance. Knight kept them there just a little longer with a jam themed on Sly and the Family Stone’s Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin), working in a little of her late friend Aretha Franklin’s Rocksteady, before leaving fans to try and discreetly dry their tears as the house lights came up.