The Temptations Still Tantalize in Beverly Hills: It’s very easy to be dismissive of legacy bands that only have a small number of original members. You hear phrases like “glorified tribute band” tossed out with reckless abandon by people who aren’t really thinking about the words that they’re saying.

I look at it like this: In June 2004, I went to see the New York Dolls at the Meltdown Festival in London. At the time, there was an outcry that the band would be reforming without the deceased Johnny Thunders, plus also-deceased drummer Jerry Nolan. “How can it be the Dolls with just the three of them,” people exclaimed. But it was a superb show and, just weeks later, bassist Arthur Kane had died of leukemia. Since then, guitarist Sylvain Sylvain has also left this mortal realm, and the Dolls are done for good. Do I regret seeing three of them? Hell no.

I have similar stories about the MC5, the Doors, the Germs, and more besides. Be a purist if you want, but all of these musicians are getting up there in age. You really need to catch them while you can.

That’s a longwinded way to get to the Temptations, but here we are. Otis Williams is the last surviving founder member of the Motown legends. That has, in fact, been the case since the mid-nineties. Williams has been left with the task of carrying the Temptations flag for close to thirty years, and he’s done that with aplomb.

Ron Tyson has been with the Temps since ’83, and Terry Weeks since 97. So they’re firmly ingrained in the band. The fresh faces are Tony Grant (in since 2021), and the man with the reverberating bass voice, Jawan M. Jackson (who joined last year).

Do we miss the likes of David Ruffin, Melvin Franklin and Eddie Kendricks? Of course we do. Few combined voices ever made as sweet a sound as the original Temptations. But here’s the thing — Williams is 81 years old now. He’s still dancing, he still sounds great, but he simply can’t do this forever. Go and enjoy the man.

We don’t have to worry about that for now. We can just enjoy what is a great, finely-tuned show at The Saban Theatre, Beverly Hills. Every song is a killer, from “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)” and “Get Ready” to “Treat Her Like a Lady” and “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.”

Williams is given the reverential treatment that he deserves, from the crowd and his colleagues. At one point he sits down to tell some old Motown stories about Smokey Robinson (something that Robinson also did when he was playing this region last year), and that was a joy.

The highlight of the set was a manic and still powerful “Ball of Confusion,” a song that is as relevant as it ever was. And of course, they finish with “My Girl,” a song that they describe as the “Temptations’ national anthem. It’s part of the great American songbook, but we sometimes forget how simply beautiful it is.

The Temptations 2023 might look different to what you remember, but they sound magnificent.

The Temptations Still Tantalize in Beverly Hills

(L-R) Terry Weeks, Jawan M. Jackson, Otis Williams, Ron Tyson and Anthony Grant. Photo credit: Crowd Surf

The Temptations Still Tantalize in Beverly Hills

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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