Smokey Robinson

Eastside Cannery, Jan. 13

Always a poet, a punner, a master of metaphors and clever references, the Motown legend took the stage inside a giant Baby Boomer-stuffed ballroom and opened with “Going to a Go-Go.” Second song? “I Second That Emotion.” At 71, he dances like a fool, cracks jokes and tells stories about the salad days—when he used to compose tunes for another act (the Temptations) in his head while driving his own touring band the Miracles cross-country. Robinson told of when he attended a record-company Christmas party so Stevie Wonder could hand him a tape of music, asking Robinson to write lyrics. The result: “Tears of a Clown,” heartily delivered here. With a six-piece band, backup singers and dancers, Robinson doesn’t cut corners. Sure, his Temptations medley sags and his rendition of jazz standard “Fly Me to the Moon” and cover of Norah Jones’ song “Don’t Know Why” should be tossed. But his slow-jam version of “Ooo Baby Baby” drew a standing O, and recent ballad “Time Flies,” about life’s brevity and inevitable decay, did what the best pop songs do—stop time, if only for a few minutes. ★★★★★

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Diggy Simmons

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