*I’ll keep it real. I arrived at the California State Fair Wednesday night with more than a little trepidation.
After all, the Pointer Sisters had been my first concert experience, way back in 1983. Ruth, Anita, and June blew my little adolescent mind that night, with the tightest three part harmonies I’d ever heard, hemlines and pumps that made me feel things I’d not felt before, and high energy choreography that, I’ve always believed, inspired Tina Turner‘s comeback MTV strut the following year.
With June having passed away and Anita having just retired from touring, how could Ruth, 70, along with her daughter Issa and granddaughter Sadako possibly live up to that memory? How could they handle those stunning vocal arrangements? And most importantly, would Ruth still be excited?
After Wednesday night’s concert in Sacramento, I can answer that question with two simple words: Yes, Lord.
That’s the first of a couple of religious references in this review, which is fitting when talking about a group that was founded by four preacher’s daughters in Oakland, California. Here’s the second: I almost caught the Holy Ghost during “Neutron Dance.” Luckily, the people in my row just laughed and stepped aside as I came down that row and into the center aisle singing and shouting along with the Pointer Sisters: “I feel it in my hands! I feel it in my feet! I’m on fire!”
Simply put, the ladies WERE on “Fire”, delivering brilliant versions of hits like that Bruce Springsteen-written masterpiece, “He’s So Shy,” “Automatic,” and “Slow Hand,” and even doing Aretha Franklin justice with a rousing “Chain Of Fools”…and that was just the first set.
Remember my Tina Turner reference? Well, the Pointer Sisters performed that first set in coordinated fringe mini-dresses. And I mean MINI dresses. Turner’s been a private dancer for about a decade of retired bliss with her husband, but if I were her, I’d think about strapping the pumps back on, as Ruth & company are providing some serious competition!
After a quick costume change, the girls — and that’s not an idle compliment, as the 70-year-old Ruth appeared 30 years younger — walked out in coordinated white midriff-baring shirts and skinny jeans and tore into “I’m So Excited,” complete with Beyoncé-worthy twerks that pulled the near-capacity crowd into a fervor from which there was no return. “Neutron Dance,” “Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves” (another Aretha cover), and “Jump (For My Love) closed out the show.
I was able to chat it up with the ladies backstage after the show. Thankfully, Ruth still hasn’t ruled out the possibility of releasing her long-awaited solo album, and Issa (whose father is the legendary Dennis Edwards of The Temptations) has a single on iTunes and is recording her first solo album.
I’m downloading the single today, will be praying for Ruth’s solo project, and I’m happy that the group’s legacy is in good hands with two new generations of Pointers. But again, I’ll keep it real: the Pointer Sisters’ classic hits are untouchable, and they performed them flawlessly Wednesday night, so while I wait for their new projects, I’ll be burning, doing the Neutron Dance! And I’ll also be waiting to see the Pointer Sisters again. I promise I won’t wait another 33 years.
Hat’s off to the California State Fair for another fantastic concert!
Keep up with the Pointer Sisters at pointersisters.com.