Motown may have ruled the R&B-flavored pop side of the 1960s, but by the ‘70s, Philly soul was all the rage with The O’Jays leading the “Love Train.” And anyone who packed out the meticulously restored Genesee Theatre got one soulful ride from original member Eddie Levert, fellow co-founder Walter Williams and longtime sidekick Eric Grant, filled with all the hits and several scarcer snippets from a lineage that now spans nearly an astounding six decades.
Perhaps more than any other tune, that frequently-reworked finale “For The Love Of Money” solidified The O’Jays’ mighty status throughout the archives of soul, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, while giving those at the Genesee every penny’s worth of their “lean, mean, mean, green.”
For 90 continuous minutes, The O’Jays were total pros swapping lines and steps in their bright red suits with no less than a 12-piece band and two background singers that were all super dependable. Surrounded by billowing smoke, the guys marched out one by one to the somber beats of “Ships Ahoy,” a theatrical history lesson on slavery and racism, accompanied by artist renderings and photographs.
Yet from there on out it was either a pure party or a baby making groove as the trio weaved through “Time To Get Down,” “Livin’ For The Weekend,” “I Love Music” and “Let Me Make Love To You.” Come “Cry Together,” Levert took a seat on the stage right speaker, crossed his leg and had a surge of women race to his side shrieking as they snapped pictures.
Additional showmanship came during the immortal “Love Train” when the group brought to life the moves from a vintage episode of “Soul Train” shown on the screen above. Afterwards, The O’Jays pulled up barstools to catch a breather, but at least ten tunes found their way into a subsequent medley of previous album tracks, most notably, “Now That We Found Love,” which also struck gold for reggae band Third World and rappers Heavy D & The Boyz.
Thankfully, the disco-laden beats of “Back Stabbers” and the crisp harmonies of “Used Ta Be My Girl” earned the full treatment, while “For The Love Of Money” was extended to feature several of the instrumentalists. Perhaps more than any other tune, that frequently-reworked finale solidified The O’Jays’ mighty status throughout the archives of soul, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, while giving those at the Genesee every penny’s worth of their “lean, mean, mean, green.”
Click here for more photos of The O’Jays at the Genesee Theatre.
For additional information on The O’Jays, visit MightyOJays.com.
Upcoming concert highlights at the Genesee Theatre include Richard Marx with John Waite (Jan. 26); Cinderella’s Tom Keifer with Ratt’s Stephen Pearcy (Jan. 27); ERTH’S “Dinosaur Zoo” Live (Feb. 1); 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); Salute To Gospel Music (Feb. 24); “Million Dollar Quartet” (Mar. 4); Sara Evans (Mar. 17); Boyz II Men (Mar. 22) and Chick Corea (Mar. 30). For additional details, visit GeneseeTheatre.com.