Saturday’s show at the Granada brought a “knight” of inspiration, support, and encouragement in the form of Gladys Knight. The world-renowned songstress could not have performed for a more engaged audience, who could constantly be heard shouting out in agreement with Knight’s relentless enthusiasm. Dressed in a glittering white pantsuit, Knight gave each song its own unique introduction and segue, and before the end of the evening she had received innumerable standing ovations.
The entire show was spectacular; Knight sang and danced onstage, showing as much spirit at 64 years old as she was known to have had 40 years prior. The theme of the evening, without a doubt, was a lesson in never looking down during hard times - to “keep on keepin’ on,” as she said at one point between songs. Mid-way through the evening, Knight and her seven-piece band, replete with backup singers, played a medley of covers, beginning with “If You Don’t Know Me by Now” (originally performed by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes), followed by Eric Clapton’s “Love Don’t Love Nobody,” and her own special version of Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road,” which Knight said “captured the magic and put it in the music.”
Staying true to her personable form, Knight’s brother Bubba - one of the original Pips - met his sister onstage during the show, whereby he coaxed a microphone from the pop star’s hands, removed his jacket, and asked to borrow the band. And when his little sis joked at his request, Bubba replied, “I ain’t got no band! I ain’t solo yet, I’m still Pip’n,” sending the crowd into a roar. He then sweetly requested the guitarist give him “an A flat 5, with a B in the middle - for Bubba - and put some Tabasco sauce on it.” The band did as told, launching straight into “Love and Happiness” and James Brown’s “Funky Good Time.”
Knight’s performance eloquently captured the essence of the roots of pop music, full up with charm, class, and a real connection between performer and audience. And when the curtain fell after her last official song, “Midnight Train to Georgia,” fans applauded with such vigor, Knight returned to the floor and covered Diana Ross’s “I Will Survive.” The song started off with a jazzy slowness, and built up to model its high-energy original by the second verse. Knight, who seemed to be having just as much fun as those in attendance, then thanked everyone again for coming, allowing the curtain to fall one final time.