Aretha Franklin at the Minnesota State Fair, 8/22/14
|Photo by Tony Nelson|
Minnesota State Fair Grandstand, Saint Paul
Friday, August 22, 2014
A sharp, piercing sun was setting as the Grandstand was beginning to fill up Friday night. The grandiose revelry that is the Minnesota State Fair was kicking off its first weekend in true style. As if it were tailored especially for this one beautiful evening, the Fair outdid itself welcoming the Four Tops and the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin, to the stage for what turned out to be, for many reasons, an unforgettable night.
Set up like a soul revue of sorts, the production and big band musical accompaniment revved the evening up with a jamming instrumental version of "Are You Man Enough?" It allowed time for only living original Tops member Abdul "Duke" Fakir and his young recruits to strut themselves out at the four microphones center stage.
The Tops' glorious full vocal sound brought the audience on their feet with the Motown staple "Baby, I Need Your Loving." As vintage photos of himself with former members rolled past, Fakir paid tribute, "Through eternity, there will always be the Four Tops."
In shiny red satin jackets with big, black shirt collars, the Four Tops reimagined the group's stellar steps and dance moves. Synchronized jazz hands and twirls had the Tops dancing with their microphone stands and harmonizing, inspiring sweethearts in the crowd to embrace, singing to one another for "Same Old Song" and "Shake Me, Wake Me(When It's Over)."
|Photo by Tony Nelson|
After some gentle ribbing among the current members of the group, the Tops took to their stools and switched things up to a '70s vibe slow groove for the more sweet soulful harmonies of "(It's the Way) Nature Planned It" and eventually "Ain't No Woman Like the One I've Got" that had the audience swooning, taking in the gorgeous summer breeze and finding their own groove.
The falsettos amongst the crowd fantastically drowned out the Four Tops on stage for the massive medley and climax of hits. On their feet and moving and grooving, the audience were wrapped up in soul dance mania with "I'll Be There", "Standing in the Shadows of Love" and "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)."
Strutting back off stage Fakir thanked the audience, "God bless you all. The Queen is on her way!!" After a long intermission, the stage went dim.