Smokey Robinson is “Crusin” his way into the heart of TulsaBy William Simpson • Feb 2nd, 2016 • Category: Feature Articles
Article and Photos by Jennifer Reid
The undeniable king of Motown Smokey Robinson set his sights for The Joint at Hard Rock Tulsa and never looked back. With a chill in the January air, Robinson knew how to get the heat started.
With a grand center stage entrance, Smokey Robinson emerged with a twinkle in his eye and the smile that is all his own. His 7 piece band, matching in all white surrounded the legend dressed in all red. A devil and angel scenario came to mind. Was this setting the precedence for the show?
The set began with 1981’s “Being With You.” Working his way from one corner of the stage to the other he welcomed his audience with a personal connection of handshakes and hugs. Transitioning directly into “I Second That Emotion” he was joined center stage by a female backup singer. Looking deeply into each other’s eyes, the song became emotional. So emotional, Robinson wrapped his arm around his colleague’s waist and pulled her to him leaving their faces only inches apart. The little devil was starting to show his self!
Reaching back to his Miracles days, he led the audience through tracks like “Ooo Baby, Baby,” and “You’ve Really Got a Hold On Me.” An acoustic version of “Tracks of My Tears” displayed familiarity yet distinction. This was a very soothing bridge to the set. Robinson then began to discuss how he wrote for lots of Motown friends and expressed his love for writing with The Temptations. A trio of his legendary friends hits “The Way You Do The Things You Do,” “Get Ready, and “My Girl” sung with great compassion and pride showed his angel side surfacing once again!
The sensual side of Smokey Robinson also shone through. The 2009 album “Time Flies When You’re Having Fun” contains a track called “Love Bath.” The lyrics describe in detail a night full of passion and mood setting descriptions. Robinson allowed the song to envelope him and with ease broke into tactile dance moves that included hip sways and rotations. The women went crazy, the men took note, and the devilish grin returned.
Rounding out the night was the 1979 hit that Robinson wrote, produced and recorded “Crusin.” Always a crowd favorite, he got the audience involved. Dividing the room in two, he asked for a volunteer to represent side one. Once chosen, the delighted female fan stormed the stage and was welcomed with open arms by Smokey. The embrace was heartfelt by both and radiated to the audience. Side two was ready for their leader. Another female fan made her way to the stage. Not rushed, but quite gingerly. Exiting the stage right wing she shuffled and shimmied her way to Smokey who accommodated her dancing with his own. The two leaders were set and the competition was on! Side one and two battled back and forth with the line “I love it when we’re cruisin together” with the band as judges. One side was loud, the other was louder. One side was energetic, the other side was enthusiastic. The competing went on for several minutes, until in the end a unanimous vote determined each side were winners. With that, Smokey Robinson kissed each lady’s cheek, bid his audience farewell and exited in the same manner in which he entered. Center stage as only a true star can do.
Heroes are never forgotten and legends never die. Smokey Robinson has and will continue to live in our hearts for eternity.