Few Hitches as Ever-Gorgeous Diana Ross Opens Hollywood Bowl Season




By HARRIET KAPLAN

Opening the 2018 Hollywood Bowl season on Saturday night featured global superstar singer and actress Diana Ross. The performance was billed as “Diana Ross Sings Memories” accompanied by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra with conductor Thomas Wilkins.

This 16-song show, which ran under two hours, was basically an elongated melody consisting of different material from various periods of her illustrious career. The set also included some covers and one song from The Supremes songbook. “Chain Reaction” was a surprising highlight.

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Ross Brings Great Energy to Bowl

Ross gave it a spirited and rousing treatment that transcended its inherent ordinary commerciality. “It’s My House, “It’s My Turn,” “Home” and “Do Where You Know Where You’re Going To” were effecting, moving and poignant. Ross also delivered a gospel number “Amazing Grace.” It didn’t seem to stir the audience emotionally much. It also found Ross out of her depth. The song felt flat though earnestly performed. Accompanied on occasion by a large choir ensemble, the songs took on more dramatic immediacy and power.

The show ended abruptly at 10:30 pm. Some fans could be overheard complaining afterward they wished Ross played longer. They also felt felt her vocals a bit rough on some songs. Others sensed Ross wasn’t always in synch with the orchestra and visa versa. That was all true. Ross herself commented during the show she was having a sound issue onstage as well.

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Ross as The Boss

There is always a debate whether one finds a show satisfying in terms of what songs are played and Diana Ross gets to choose. After all, it’s her “memories” and she remains “The Boss.” Though, it could been nice and totally appropriate to play homage more to The Supremes showing more respect and honoring that legacy.

Ross is not renowned for being a performer that runs around the stage. Her physical  movements are limited to raising her arms above her head and tossing her luxurious black wavy mane around.  Still the performance felt a bit lethargic. It didn’t help that Ross was seemed saddled with dragging the massive train/boas attached to her gowns around the stage. Finally, after a time, she managed to discard them. Maybe it reinforced her status as the ultimate diva, it but seemed more a distraction and slowed the pacing of the show.

Rarely talking to the audience she did introduce some of the members of the orchestra and complimented them. She also addressed her lack of movement because she broke or sprained her ankle playing with her grandchildren. Ross commented with a laugh it was the second time she did that. Ross also enthusiastically and proudly told the audience her family was in the audience.  A large spotlight was shined on them projected onto a Jumbotron screen.

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Diana Ross Accomplishments

At  74, Diana Ross really has nothing left to prove. Besides some flaws in the show and performance, ultimately fans primarily came to see this legendary artist. Period. In her decades-long and accomplished solo recording career, Ross has scoring 18 number one hits with 100 million in record sales. In 2012, she received her 1st GRAMMY Award for Lifetime Achievement.

In 1982, she was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. Not to mention the accolades and critical acclaim she received for her dramatic work in film for Lady Sings The Blues, The Wiz and in Mahogany. Most memorably, Diana Ross fronted the pop/soul group The Supremes in the 1960s.

Performing on The Ed Sullivan show, this influential TV program helped to break the burgeoning act to the mainstream. The Supremes appeared on the show a record 16 times. Considered one of most successful girl groups ever, The Supremes went on to influence generations of musical artists. They also knocked doors down for struggling creative women.

The Supremes helped to change the narrow way or perception people thought up until that time. They broke the chains of resistance and prejudice across ethnic and color lines in the entertainment industry. As one of most important acts to grace the Motown roster, The Supremes impact can’t be overstated. To this day, Diana Ross continues to lead the way as an icon. Ross’ undisputed talent, unique forward thinking and fearless ambition helped her to create an unforgettable and dominant name in all media.

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