There are critics who will tell you it's easier to write a negative review than a positive one. If your review is negative, you can employ some wit, sarcasm and, if so moved, downright withering language. If, on the other hand, you are writing a positive review, you run the risk of calling on the same tired adjectives and, really, how many ways are there to say "gifted," "talented," "terrific," "amazing," "unique," "fun," "heartwarming," "rousing," "superior," and even, perhaps, "enchanting."
I always found writing such a very positive review and using one superlative after another difficult because, after too many such adjectives, the enterprise can become tedious, even when the show being reviewed never does. But, every once in awhile, these descriptive words are necessary to convey the experience of being in the audience. However, after attending a press night on Friday, I've solved the problem for this review.
You see, just two words can convey the meaning of all those superlatives above. Those two words are "Human Nature."
The four white guys from Sydney whose show, - "Smokey Robinson Presents Human Nature: The Motown Show" - absolutely defines the Motown sound that originated in Detroit and traveled around the world, reaching four kids in Sydney.
Brothers Andrew and Michael Tierney, Toby Allen and Phil Burton began more than 20 years ago in Sydney. Allen, Burton and Andrew Tierney were 16 year-old high-school students and Michael Tierney was 12.
The show not only boasts terrific singers, but the terrific Funk Foundation Under the director on keyboard player/musical director Ron Foster, they are: Darryl "Z-Man" Fields on bass; Mike Evans on trombone; Tommy Alvarado playing sax; Dan Johnson on trumpet; Greg Babcock on drums and Chris Clermont on guitar - proved once again how deserving they are of being chosen Las Vegas' Best Band in the 2013 BroadWorld.com awards poll.
The show is both a musical journey through the Motown songbook and the story of Human Nature's career. They began with the first-ever Motown release, "Come To Me," by Mary Johnson. They also sang the label's first #1, the Marvelettes' "Please Mr. Postman." They hit all the Motown high spots, among them "I'll Be There," "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," Tracks of Your Tears," Ooh, Ooh Baby," "My Girl" and, along the way, instructed the audience in how to do the appropriate hand motions to accompany the Supremes' "Stop In The Name Of Love."
The last was appropriate because in the audience that night were Supreme Mary Wilson and songwriters Eddie and Brian Holland who, along with Lamont Dozier, wrote countless Motown songs.
During "My Girl," they were joined onstage by Williams and, of course, a highlight of a Human Nature show, Motown legend Smokey Robinson joined them, too. He talked about the first time he heard them sing - in a studio in Motown - and why he lent his name to their show ("Smokey Robinson Presents...").
Human Nature began their first Las Vegas residency in 2010, brough here by producer Adam Steck (SPI Entertainment) who found them Down Under. Because of this, I can only conclude Steck is brilliant and knows what the public wants. It wasn't too long after they opened that the theater in which they appeared at the Palace was renamed in their honor. That room was very different from the one at the Venetian. That was an old-Las Vegas showroom with tables touching the stage, drink service and much more casual than their new home. But, it doesn't matter. The show now a bit more dressed up with new lighting, set, better video. But it's as good as it always was. and remains one of the two or three best resident shows in Las Vegas.
Human Nature performs Thursday through Monday evenings at 7 pm at the Venetian. Tickets are priced from $73.45 to $117.45 including taxes and fees. Visit www.humannaturelive.com or call 702-414-9000.?