From now on, I'm hoping that James Lipton is my date for every concert I see. He took Bruce, Troy and I to see Diana Ross at Madison Square Garden's Theater on Friday night and it was a T-rip. I've been a Diana Ross fan since I can remember and Jim has known Ross for longer. His "Inside the Actors Studio" with the singer was a triumph; I figured when I asked someone on his staff to get me tickets that they would actually come from someone on his staff and not the man himself. He, naturally, scored such fantastic seats and when the first strains of "I'm Coming Out" wafted from the stage, we got the sense that the concert was just being performed for us.
The audience was thirsty, begging almost, for the diva and her showbiz bag of tricks. It was madness everytime she flipped her hair (every :22) or did a twirl (every :45). She changed clothes four or five times and Bruce correctly predicted her next color almost every time. (I believe it was red, white, white, black and yellow.) She sang hit after hit after hit all in about 90 minutes. From my anthem, "The Boss," to hers, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," her voice sounded fantastic and the cheering crowd stood for the entire time. During "Upside Down," she introduced Nile Rodgers, who wrote and produced the song as well as "I'm Coming Out" and more off that amazing album. He was sitting next to Bruce and we freaked. Before a soliloquy about her love for her fans, she did a classic "Can we bring the lights up.... I want to see you" move. That's what you call SHOWBIZ, folks. It don't happen much anymore. I felt like I was in a Vegas lounge and I never wanted to leave.
As we made our way backstage, fans stopped Mr. Lipton every few steps he made. "Have Angela Lansbury on your show!" one begged. He got several requests for Madonna from the homosexuals. Many had seen and loved the show with Ross. We got to talk to Nile Rodgers as we waited for the lady to appear backstage. If you walk down Horatio Street, you may hear Chic pumping out my window at random times of the day, so talking to Rodgers was cool for me. He is a genius (Shear Genius, actually) and agreed that Ross was in great voice that night. We talked about the special edition of the "diana" album that features his original tracks of "Upside Down" before they were changed for release. It was deep.
The Lady appeared in a black suit looking fresh and smelling amazing. Also backstage was Eddie Holland, part of the legendary Holland-Dozier-Holland team that wrote all the Supremes great hits. Ross was happy to see him and said that had she known he was there she'd have given him props from the stage.
There's what I think is a rave review by Stephen Holden in today's Times. (I can never tell what Times reviews mean, but that's another blog.) I don't understand why she doesn't have a Cher-sized tour running forever showcasing her catalogue and diva-ness.