A soulful feeling oozed through the crowd at the Athenaeum theatre as Bert LaBonte and Jude Perl took them on a journey through the life and music of soul genius Marvin Gaye.
It was a nostalgic, sweet ride as these two fine performers slid through Gaye’s incredible legacy with songs like “What’s Going On”, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, “Heard It on the Grapevine”, “How Sweet It Is” and “Sexual Healing.”
This narrative-concert style is a smooth vehicle for this type of show. Simple staging, excellent music and a casual banter between LaBonte and Perl draws the audience into Gaye’s tumultuous world.
In a volatile political time, when hatred and abuse were common currency, Marvin had an inspired gift that brought a sense of rich grooves and feeling to the music scene, yet, beneath the sweet notes was a dark underbelly of addiction, excess, failed marriages, reinvention and eventually tragedy.
LaBonte is superb, mesmeric and so cool as the Prince of Soul. He moves through from R&B to Motown to Blaxploitation and beyond with a charm that lingers. Perl is a perfect counterpart with her perfectly pitched harmonies and a litany of moves all to Musical Director John McAll’s fine arrangements performed by the smoking “hot” Funk City Band.
There was certainly some magic in the Athaneum on Thursday night, with the crowd rising to their feet in standing ovation as the last notes lingered.
Let’s Get It On, is a feel good show and all lovers of soul and in particular Marvin Gaye should not miss it.