Phil Collins brings Motown "heatwave" to Montreux

Fri Jul 2, 2010 8:52am EDT
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By Stephanie Nebehay

MONTREUX, Switzerland (Reuters) - Phil Collins brought Motown to the Montreux Jazz Festival, giving a sell-out crowd a preview of his new album of classic hits of the 1960s by legends including Steve Wonder, the Supremes and Smokey Robinson.

The eight-time Grammy Award winner, whose career has spanned 40 years, was accompanied by 18 musicians and singers in a nostalgic pre-festival tribute on Thursday night to the Detroit-based R&B, soul and pop label.

The exclusive concert in Europe, "Up Close & Personal: Phil Collins Plays '60s Motown and Soul" gave the audience a taste of material from "Going Back," his first album in eight years, ahead of its planned September release.

The former Genesis drummer and six purple-clad backing vocalists sang smash hits including "You Can't Hurry Love" (The Supremes), "Uptight" (Wonder), "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" (The Temptations), "My Girl" and "Get Ready" (Robinson).

Three female singers in sequin dresses took center stage, Supremes-style, for a sizzling rendition of "Heatwave," formerly a hit for Martha Reeves and the Vandellas.

"The truth is two years ago I decided I wanted to make an album of songs I grew up with as a teenager. All these songs are very much a soundtrack of my life," said the 59-year-old Briton, making his sixth appearance at the Auditorium Stravinski on the shore of Lake Geneva.

It will feature cover versions of classics from Motown's heyday. The label, founded by Berry Gordy, signed primarily African-American artists who had crossover success with whites, contributing to racial integration at a turbulent time.

The thrice-divorced Collins failed to convince on some of the more high-energy numbers including "Can't Hurry Love" -- a number one UK hit for Collins in 1983 -- and "Jimmy Mack," perhaps best left to female vocalists.   Continued...

<p>British singer Phil Collins performs during "Up Close &amp; Personal: Phil Collins Plays '60s Motown and Soul" during the 44th Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux July 1, 2010. The show will feature his interpretations of the biggest R&amp;B, soul and pop hits of the '60s. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse</p>