Gladys Knight - Seminole Hard Rock Live, Hollywood - December 28

Gladys Knight
Seminole Hard Rock Live, Hollywood
Friday, December 28, 2012

Better than: Wrestling at the Poorhouse afterwards.

It's all about transparency and honesty here at the Grind. For instance, why would renegade rock and roll animal Abel Folgar be given the charge to cover the elusive Empress of Soul's first night stand at the Hard Rock Live? Well, because my dear sheriffs know a losing pony sometimes needs a bet on it. But this is not so much about the woman who took us on that midnight train as much as it is about rock and roll animals not knowing how to plan a drive.

All good stories start at the beginning. This is all about Gladys Knight... but is there such a thing as Gladys Knight without her Pips? A question I've often pondered. It's like PB&J without the J. Stupid, but so intrinsically woven into the fabric of pop culture that it is almost expected.

See also:
- Gladys Knight

Before the jump I'll state as much: Gladys Knight, who celebrated her 68th birthday this past May 28, has lost nothing in her voice. Nothing!

Now, to say the Empress of Soul is an "elusive" creature deigns some explanation; she's no stranger to the soul food aficionados of the greater Hot-Lanta area, TV viewers of the reality contest variety know her judgment skills, and given a jazz festival here and there, live audiences have seen her in her full glory from time to time. The point, notwithstanding is that the Empress of Soul has managed to maintain her bankable skills intact given her commitment to the craft.

Mamita, you have everything!

Lady Knight doesn't put it out wantonly, which brings to mind the aforementioned cluster of happenings on the day of the show. There will be no "set list" below because this rock and roll animal arrived considerably late to the show because of a highly organized Critical Mass ride in Miami that saw your humble narrator stuck at a light for thirty-odd minutes, immediately after spending an equal amount of time being rerouted due to two traffic incidents.

Can anyone plan ahead for these things? Maybe. That's not the point, or maybe it is in my limited journalistic apropos. The point is, there was a woman who came out and gave it her all.

Surrounded by three keyboardists, one drummer, a percussionist, a guitarist, a bass player, and four backup singers who might've as well been just one because their synch and unison was that flawless. But the real key to any of this, which is something other members of the media have taken some unwarranted offense to, is the fact that brother Merald, the original Pip joins his baby sister onstage for a few renditions and familial bonhomie.

Trust me, it was much better live in 2012.

All decked in red, the crowning achievement of the night, from the family Knight, was the gift of closure. And when the Empress wants to close it, she does so with her fans in mind. It's a damn shame that most folks got up and started filing out expecting it, because the closure was "Midnight Train to Georgia" and it has never sounded as sweet as it did this night, Pips or no Pips.

But hell, like the Empress asked, "be my Pips!" When loyalty speaks, the plebs answer.

Critic's Notebook

We lowly creatures can't ever be critical of the Empress of Soul. Did anybody realize that she actually did not need a microphone???