Martha Reeves and the Vandellas roll out the Motown classics at Cork Jazz Fest

Martha Reeves and the Vandellas roll out the Motown classics at Cork Jazz Fest
Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, on stage during the Cork Jazz Festival at City Hall, Cork. Picture: David Keane

Martha Reeves and the Vandellas rolled out the Motown classics at Cork City Hall, writes Don O'Mahony.

“Here’s to the good life!”

Approximately halfway through her concert, Miss Martha Reeves has an urge to sample the product of the sponsor of the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival.

“I've been drinking this stuff since 1962,” she says, declaring after a sip: “I feel better now."

A Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee with over a dozen hit singles to her name, it is this odd piece of trivia that is currently relayed on her personal website.

The product in question used to make some pretty outlandish assertions about its properties but this sprightly 78-year-old could nominate any strain of snake oil as the source of her vigour and have this audience licking it off her very palm, if she so wished.

That said, the diva knows how to pace herself and the set is pretty evenly balanced between the up-tempo Motown pop numbers with which the Vandellas made their name, and more ballady numbers.

Indeed, the point which we find her imbibing comes off the back of a cover of Marvin Gaye’s laidback anthem 'What’s Going On', a track that earns its place in the set due to the Vandellas’ connection with the soul legend, but also, one suspects, because it provides an opportunity for the band members to each have their moment in the spotlight while the indefatigable Miss Reeves enjoys something of a breather.

The opening few numbers are hit by sound difficulties with Reeves' tambourine on 'Nowhere to Run' sounding louder than the bass and keys.

However, 'Jimmy Mack' and 'Heat Wave' have people jiving in the aisles.

But it’s a quietly devastating 'No One There' - pared down to minimal piano while allowing space for her sisters and backing singers Delphine and Lois to shine - that shows that beneath the pop perfection few could essay heartbreak quite like her.

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