The Temptations & The Four Tops deliver crowd pleaser

A review of The Temptations, The Four Tops at the Cape Cod Melody Tent on August 22, 2010

, Managing Editor

The Temptations and The Four Tops share an abundance of similarities in their illustrious careers. Both emerged from Detroit, both were part of the Motown family, and both are icons of not just R&B but the music industry itself. The major difference of course is that while the Temptations lineup was shuffled more than a deck of cards over the years, the Four Tops remained constant until 1997 with the passing of Lawrence Payton. The results of this distinction were easy to see in each group’s approach to their nostalgia act in Hyannis on Sunday.

Throughout the Temptations history whenever a member left or was fired, there was always another singer to quickly fill the void. They would learn the moves and the tunes, throw on a matching suit, and the Temptations would carry on like nothing happened. Today, the legendary group still acts like nothings changed, pumping out their deep collection of hits and timeless choreography in rapid succession. Even the last remaining original member, Otis Williams, continues to serve in his regular backup role, rather than take the lead. Instead, big man Bruce Williams had the honor of belting out classic tracks like “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”, “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone”, and “My Girl” while nimbly keeping up with the Temptations footwork. Williams was a powerful force with the lead. He brought “I Wish It Would Rain” to a whole new level and used his mighty frame to unleash a boisterous bellow on ‘Papa’.

The Temptations breezed through an hour-long performance with a set list that couldn’t have disappointed fans. The group packed the hits in fast because at their age an hour is about as long as one can last. The level of precision for the Temptations performances has decreased as the member’s ages increased, but they deserve credit for how well they can still sing and dance today.

The Four Tops surprisingly went on second, even though The Temptations had the top billing. Though, at this point in their careers it probably doesn’t really matter to either group. Like their fellow Motowners, the Four Tops have one remaining original member left in Duke Fakir. The Tops set was much more introspective than their counterparts as Duke told stories of the group’s Motown days and dedicated a large portion of the show to paying tribute to his late bandmates. Included in the tribute was “Just Ask the Lonely”, Luther Vandross’s “Dance With My Father Again” performed by Roquel Payton (son of Lawrence Payton) and Duke’s solo take on “My Way” which he changed to “Our Way”.

After the poignant tribute the group lifted the mood as they finished off their set in classic Tops fashion, with fans dancing along to “Reach Out I’ll Be There” and “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)”.

The Four Tops weren’t quite as lively as their counterparts but with less focus on dance moves, they were still able to carry a tune with vigor. Former Temptation Theo Peoples especially shined in the lead for the foursome.

More than 50 years after both groups started, and missing all but one original member in each, the Temptations and the Four Tops weren’t expected to live up to their legendary status but they also weren’t expected to embarrass themselves, which they certainly didn’t. What both groups did was give fans a taste of “The good ole days” people are always talking about.

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