Downtown Reno’s Rockbar Theater took a step outside of its usual format and hosted The Official Drifters with openers the Soul Persuaders.
The heat of a Nevada summer night Aug. 14 permeated the intimate seating arrangement inside the venue as the Soul Persuaders took the stage with their takes on classic rock, soul and funk songs ranging from Al Green to The Temptations to an energetic rendition of “Uptown Funk,” covering Bruno Mars, to close the set.
With three members of the band hailing originally from Detroit, lending authentic Motown chops to singers’ Lee A. Davis’ infectious onstage showmanship and Margret Wrights’ room-shaking delivery, the Soul Persuaders brought both sonic appeal and authenticity to their set. By the time they walked off the stage, they had left the club abuzz.
The Drifters are synonymous with Motown-era radio. Songs such as “Under The Boardwalk,” “This Magic Moment,” “Up On The Roof” and “Save The Last Dance For Me,” the group’s catalog would make it cause for excitement.
The group came out in matching baby blue suits and lined up with synchronized moves while alternating lead vocals and singing through reworkings of songs spanning much of its catalog. However, with splintering factions, names and rights determined by legal proceedings, and a collective membership of more than 60 performers throughout their histories, the current Official Drifters can really only be seen as a novelty act. That’s not necessarily a negative thing on its own.
But along with the nostalgia of seeing and hearing the devices of a simpler and possibly more romantic era of music, some of those devices just seemed a little dated. An example being the spoken aside mention of just wanting to come home to a loving woman waiting with a homecooked meal as the rest of the group hummed and snapped in unison.
So while bringing the Drifters’ brand to Reno was definitely one of the best chances to hear the songs of a different era, on this night it was the hometown openers and their take on an assortment of classics that really made the room dance.