How cool to see the great Darlene Love at the new venue Sony Hall in NYC last night! Ecstatic harmonies and waves of nostalgia flowed during songs like "He's a Rebel," one of the "Wall of Sound" recordings she did with Phil Spector in the 1960s while singing with the Blossoms. Spector audaciously and deceptively released it as a song by the Crystals, since they were better known at the time, but there's no mistaking that "thunderbolt" (Rolling Stone) lead-vocal sound.
Since Love grew up singing in her father's church, it's not surprising that she included a gospel song in her repertoire, nor that one of her backup singers is also a minister.
A consummate backup vocalist herself, Love had not recorded a studio album in decades before the recent Steven Van Zandt-produced "Introducing Darlene Love." She did a tune ("Among the Believers") from that record as well, but of course most people need no introduction to this truly iconic singer, who also performed her early songs "Wait 'til My Bobby Gets Home" and "Today I Met the Boy I'm Gonna Marry."
After performing stirring versions of such Motown classics as "River Deep, Mountain High" and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," she ended with “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” which she famously performed for 29 years running on David Letterman’s show. She initially teased us, saying it was too late to do a Christmas song, but then she proved herself fabulously wrong.