Pic Playback: The O’Jays Make Their Last Stop In Washington D.C. One To Remember

People all over the District joined hands as The Mighty O’Jays pulled up to the Capital One Arena on Saturday, August 13 for the “Last Stop on the Love Train” Tour.  After 65 years of entertaining the World and showing us what male vibrato in music should sound like, they are deciding to hang up their suits and bow out gracefully after an extended run.

Just because they are retiring doesn’t mean that they’ve already checked out, which was made clear during their performance. Since we were technically on the Love Train, no one likes traveling alone, so they brought along two long time friends of theirs.

Almost every woman’s crush from back in the 80’s, one of the men who made “light skinned brothas “a thing” was the first to take the stage. El DeBarge walked out on the stage sparkling like the true diamond in the rough that he is. Appearing center stage he wasted no time getting the party started by going into his 1985 hit “Rhythm of the Night” which prompted the audience to immediately get up out of their seats. To allow for a bit of comfort to all of the ladies who were sharply dressed in the highest of heels, El sat back behind the keyboard to mellow things out. Rolling through myriad classics that included “I Like It,” “Time Will Reveal,” “All This Love,” and “I’ll Call Your Name,” he warmed the crowd up and used his time efficiently to let it be known that he still has his vocal chops.

Granted this may have been the Last Stop on the Love Train, it appears that Ms. Gladys Knight appeared on that midnight train to Georgia…via DC. As the only female on this tour, she held it down for the grown and sexy ladies. Not looking a day over Sixty-Fine, the original R&B diva stunned in eloquent black and silver number as she blessed us with that contralto range that we’ve all come to love over the last seven decades.

I remember listening to a lot of her songs with my grandmother, and it was amazing to see how clear and close her voice sounded belting out such tunes as “My Imagination,” “The Way We Were,” “If I Were Your Woman,” and “Neither One Of Us” live. She had me going though when the intro lines for “Love Overboard” kicked in because I’ve long loved that songs since she appeared on an episode of A Different World performing it.

When it was time for The O’Jays to hit the stage, you know that they meant business, so it was befitting that they began their set with the song that would set the tone “Give The People What They Want“. Walking on stage as cool as ever, the group has always personified the essence of what it is to be a dapper male. Whoever their wardrobe person is deserves a raise, because the all red custom tailored suits that they rocked made me jealous and want to run out and buy one for myself.

Original group member Walter Williams Sr. and Eric Nolan Grant stood before us, as well as background singer Nicholas Davis, but the big question of the night is where was Mr. Eddie Levert Sr? The announcement was made that he has been missing in action from the tour due to dealing with COVID-19 complications. Despite his absence, the show must go on, and that it did with Davis filling in for his parts, and to be honest, it was the most fitting choice as his voice texture and tone matched Levert’s, and he even looked like he could be one of the Levert sons, which was kind of crazy to see.

All the vibes matched that of a 70’s house party, with the likes of songs “Loving You,” “Forever Mine,” “Let Me Make Love To You,” “For The Love Of Money,” and “Backstabbers” getting some much needed live attention. If you’re at all familiar with the group, and we’re pretty sure that you are, you know these brothers can SANG…that rendition of “Stairway To Heaven” sounded better with these gentlemen in their 70’s, than some of these younger R&B kats who are currently out in their 20’s.

For their encore, they forged through a medley of up-tempo songs “Used Ta Be My Girl” and “For The Love Of Money” that showed off the syncopated choreography they have been known for.  “Love Train” was their last song of the night, and it was a joys moment to watch people in the audience actually join hands as the song played out.

There are only a handful more of these shows left, so if you didn’t get a chance to see them in the area, please don’t miss out on the opportunity of giving these legends their flowers and seeing them one last time.

 

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