BWW Reviews: Rare FIFTH DIMENSION Concert Rocks Los Angeles
"Up, Up and Away" is not only the signature tune of the Fifth Dimension but it expressed the overall uplifting feeling Saturday night when the group made a rare Los Angeles concert appearance at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. Their positive energy made the entire audience want to fly right along with them as they soared through a thrilling 90 minute odyssey of their hits as well as a bevy of Motown pop standards and other great tunes from the past. It was indeed a walk down memory lane, a dandy one, with gorgeous Florence LaRue, one the original founders of the Fifth Dimension, and her current partners Willie Williams, Patrice Morris, Leonard Tucker and Floyd Smith. Every one just oozed personality, charm, warmth and pizzaz and are still in super dynamic vocal form. LaRue sounds every bit as good as she did back in 1965 when the group started out, with an incredible range and sultry delivery that will not quit.
These five, like most great recording artists of the past, love and admire their audiences so much that they go all out and really put on a show...one that includes a lot of fun and audience participation as well as of course that wonderful music. Highlights of the evening included: their opener "September" followed by a medley of their greatest hits such as "Up, Up and Away", "Wedding Bell Blues", "The Worst That Could Happen" and "Last Night I Didn't Get to Sleep". There was a beautiful love duet "From This Moment" by LaRue and Williams, a stunningly arranged "McArthur Park" by Williams, audience favorite "Stoned Soul Picnic" sung by all, which included some impromptu dancing by 3 people chosen at random from the audience, a terrific 'rain' medley including "It's Rainin' Men", "Rainy Days and Mondays", "Rain Drops Keep Falling" and LaRue's dynamic turn on "Stormy Weather." She also brought down the house with her deeply felt "One Less Bell" followed by the entire group's reveling in "Aquarius"/"Let the Sunshine In" from Hair.
One great surprise came during the finale of "Let the Sunshine In" when LaRue invited original Fifth Dimension members Billy Davis Jr. and Marilyn McCoo, who were seated in the audience, to join them onstage. What a treat to see them together once more! The group encored with two unforgettable Motown hits "I Know We'll Never Love This Way Again" and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough". A fantastic four-piece band backed the group throughout.
(performance photo credit: Stan Mazin)
A concert of this type with so much cherished nostalgia comes along only once in a while, and this Fifth Dimension LA appearance is without question the best so far in 2014. Thanks to Florence LaRue, a stunning and charismatic singer and great humanitarian lady for all seasons, the Fifth Dimension is still taking us 'up, up and away' in their beautiful balloon. Long may they fly!
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Two local bands were on hand for the preshow to the Fifth Dimension, which nicely set the tone of the 60s rock era. They were the JT Manning Band and Gena Grahame and the MovieBlues. Grahame and her musicians represented Alliance for Family Wellness supporting victims of domestic violence. (www.alliance4fw.com) Songs they played included: "Proud Mary", "Hound Dog", "Thunder and Lightning", "Stand By Me" and "Rock and Roll Until the Broad Daylight".