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Martha Reeves and The Vandellas - Live Review

Martha Reeves and the Vandellas @ The Venue, Derby - 17/11/17

It isn’t often that we here at Hush are lost for words, but tonight we were left absolutely awe struck after witnessing the legend that is Martha Reeves and of course her two sisters, The Vandellas. It’s hard to know where to begin but we’ll try…

Again we find ourselves at ever homely The Venue in Derby, again being well looked after by Brett and the team although disappointingly there is no photo pit, which to begin with was met with disappointment but in the end turned out to be another reason why the gig was just so good, no barrier gave Martha an intimacy with the crowd that is very rarely seen at shows now a days; so much so that at one point she was handed a bouquet of flowers from a member of the crowd in what was both a touching moment for Martha herself and for the rest of those in attendance.   

One thing that set this show apart was Marthas chat in between songs, at 76 years old it was never going to be a fast paced gig but Martha manged to seamlessly join song after song with stories from her past, banter with the crowd, explanations about songs including when they were written or why they were written; all giving Martha time to catch her breath and allowing the fans a more “evening with…” kind of feel, this only added to the already beautifully intimate nature of the evening. 

Martha herself has an incredible voice and after over 50 years in the business she can still blast out the notes when needed, all the while she obviously has full control over her band (who themselves were fantastic) orchestrating the musicians on stage with a wave of her tambourine. The Derby crowd were blessed with hit after hit, including Motown classics like Nowhere to Run, Heatwave and Jimmy Mack, it was impossible not to dance along to such iconic tunes. 

Martha Reeves and the Vandellas had a quality I have never seen before in a band, a kind of aura, a shine that is reserved for the top of musical royalty. Born in 1941 (more than 20 years before African Americans had equal rights) in Alabama before moving to Detroit at the age of 4, it’s hard to imagine the ups and downs of her life, a life that has left her with such a glow of super-stardom it can’t be defined in words. The people of Derby were blessed to be in such a presence and there is no way anyone was left in that room without feeling like they had witnessed and been in the presence of, something and someone very special. 

With acts like this showing up The Venue continues to cement its place as one of the UKs “must-go-to” live music venues. 

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