Take the man with the number one song ever, a group that’s been covered by Mick Jagger & David Bowie, Van Halen, Bruce Springsteen, Phil Collins and dozens more megastars, plus one of just two surviving original members of the all-time greatest girl group and the “Legendary Voices” show that filled up most of the Genesee Theatre lived up to its title and then some. The wind chill may have been well below zero on the night before New Year’s Eve, but Chubby Checker, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas and Mary Wilson brought a twister of a “Heat Wave” to the beautifully restored venue that even had Mayor Sam Cunningham in the house.
Yet it was Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” alongside Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” (which holds the unbelievable distinction of being the #1 Billboard Hot 100 single in history) and “Let’s Twist Again” that shot everyone right back to the golden era without ever sounding stale.
Checker took the top slot and it was definitely deserved thanks to his lineage back to the earliest days of rock n’ roll, who with the anchoring of his zesty band The Wildcats, performed several personal chart-toppers and others made famous by those lost along the way. Whether it was his own “Twist It Up,” “Hooka Tooka,” “Loddy Lo” and “Pony Time” or James Brown’s “Good Good Lovin’,” a sped up version of Fats Domino’s “Blueberry Hill” and Buddy Holly’s “Peggy Sue,” dancing was the primary emphasis with the veteran inviting fans on stage or joining them in the aisles.
For “Limbo Rock,” the hip-swiveling and audience participation continued, including a humorous trade-off of the “Mickey Mouse Club” theme between Checker and the crowd. Yet it was Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” alongside “The Twist” (which holds the unbelievable distinction of being the #1 Billboard Hot 100 single in history) and “Let’s Twist Again” that shot everyone right back to the golden era without ever sounding stale.
Given their constant rotation on radio, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas kept the classics coming backed by an eight-piece band. Led by one of Motown’s leading ladies who came across as part preacher, half hippie and pure fabulousness, there was “Holy Highway,” “Jimmy Mack,” “Nowhere To Run” and “Heat Wave,” though “Dancing In The Street” managed to beat them all when it came to sheer timelessness.
Unofficial “Dreamgirl” Mary Wilson of The Supremes didn’t exactly sound like herself when she joined seven musicians and two background singers for “Love Child,” but she soon attributed the reason to having the flu. However, she still came with her game face, glitzy gown and tissue box to revisit “Reflections,” “You Can’t Hurry Love,” “Come See About Me,” “Baby Love,” “Stop! In The Name Of Love,” “Someday We’ll Be Together” and so many more memories that will always matter.
Upcoming concert highlights at the Genesee Theatre include Jim Belushi (Jan. 13); Terry Fator (Jan. 19); The O’Jays (Jan. 25); Richard Marx with John Waite (Jan. 26); Cinderella’s Tom Keifer with Ratt’s Stephen Pearcy (Jan. 27); Priscilla Presley “Elvis & Me” (Feb. 2); Ron White (Feb. 3); Dennis DeYoung: “The Grand Illusion 40th Anniversary” (Feb. 10); Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone with Gary Puckett & The Union Gap (Feb. 15); Shades Of Buble (Feb. 17); Frank Caliendo (Feb. 22); Hairball (Feb. 23) and Salute To Gospel Music (Feb. 24). For additional details, visit GeneseeTheatre.com.