Soul Sisters and Brothers

Updated: Nov 24, 2020

Happy Days

If your are of a similar age, how lucky have we been as children of the 50s and 60s to have seen, heard and shared in such a wonderful array of musical genres, something that cannot be said of later generations? The musical and associated depth of cultural diversity we experienced from the late 19050s to the beginning of the new millennium will never be replicated and I feel very privileged to be part of such a club .

So here we now were 50 years later, well and truly defined and about to have a wonderful night of Smokey Robinson, my hero of heroes Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, The Temptations, Martha & The Vandellas, Mary Wells and The Marvelettes all here on stage, tonight at the Sunderland Civic Theatre.

As we entered it was obvious from the large number of people standing around the entrance to the bar and lounge that the show was to be well attended. I looked around and exclaimed to Maria just how many men there were wearing beige, not exclusively your archetypal pensioner corduroy jacket, but beige stuff in general. "How non-Tamla," I complained. Maria nodded and searched for the tickets in her purse not paying much attention. We moved on and as we queued to check our tickets, Maria turned to me simultaneously nudging me with her elbow and whispered. "Yes, I was listening to you regarding what you said about beige." She gestured to the left of the stairs outside the entrance to the auditorium where a group of "elderly" people stood. "We must be the youngest here, Berry Gordy will be turning in his grave. We haven't come on pensioners night have we?"

Both giggling we started to the bar to seek out libation before the curtain went up. We had several minutes to spare once comfortably ensconced in our prime, well-worth-the-expense seats, which gave me time to take a good look around at our fellow audience members. No more beige I grant you, but jeez, everyone looked so old! Then, with a realisation that actually physically hurt, it hit me - I was one of them! What mentally challenging situation was this? It was as if every attendee of the local Tech Disco circa 1972 had been beamed up by a time machine, aged accordingly, and then deposited here in theatre 48 years on. We were all as individuals now as back then but with the addition of nearly half a century's worth of backstories. There were obvious family groups, Gran & Grandad, Mum and Dad and teens, all there to enjoy this music having been passed down through the generations.

The Sunderland Empire Theatre
The Sunderland Empire has seen better days but the show was FAB

When the show got underway, the teens know all of the words. It's also worth noting that, when displayed, Gran and Grandad still knew all the moves! The show was brilliant the experience sublime. On the way back to the car 'wifey' was in rapture. "I wonder how many people in that theatre tonight fell in love to those songs, or had their hearts broken, how many went on first dates to Motown Discos or convinced themselves they sounded just like Smokey or Diana in the shower like we do?" It was the first time that we realised that we were quite proud to accept that we look older too, old enough to be members of a "club" with such amazing music as a common thread. After all, you have to be quite an age to enable you to boast that these songs were new releases "back in our day."

It is worth mentioning that when she saw this photo, Maria's reaction was a horrified "not that one, I look so ancient!" My response, "WELCOME TO THE CLUB."

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