Show Review: The Spinners at Yoshi’s – Jack London Square, 2/3/12

by Dakin Hardwick on February 7, 2012

Photos By Emily Anderson

When we started Spinning Platters back in 2009, we really weren’t thinking about the fact that our name could remind people of two ground breaking, classic R&B groups. We were really trying to get at a pun on records, CD’s, and hard drives. I’m not sure where the trigger came from reminding us of The Platters and The Spinners, but I decided that we needed to be there the next time either act played. Due to legal reasons, it seems that the likelihood of a Platters show is slim, but when Yoshi’s announced a three night stint with The Spinners, well, I had to seize this moment.

Yoshi’s is a very classy and sophisticated joint. It definitely doesn’t have the typical “standing around, waiting for a drunkard to spill beer on your plaid shirt” vibe of 90% of the music venues in SF. The room is filled with tables and chairs, and every one of them is elevated properly so you had a nice view of the stage from anywhere in the room. This was also a packed house, with everyone dressed in their finest. The woman wore dresses, the men wore suits. We were served at our tables, and you could order drinks and/or japanese food. This was the first of six shows over the course of three days, and the room was completely full.

Instead of an opener, the backup band treated us to a medley of songs from The Spinners’ incredibly deep catalog of hits. Band leader Keith Ferguson functioned as hype man, teasing the crowd about the performance, and he did a fine job of getting the crowd going. Then, the five singers dressed in matching black suits hit the stage and jumped straight into “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love.” The vocals were in fine shape, and the band even hit some impressive choreography. It was a classic R&B show, the kind of show that inspired 40 years of boy bands.

Of course, the entire set was all hits. I didn’t think I was familiar with The Spinners. I knew they did “It’s A Shame,” and that was all I was certain of before the show. Well, they played that Stevie Wonder-penned piece second. All I was thinking at the point was that, for the rest of the show, everything I heard was going to be brand new to me. I was happily mistaken. The third song was a cover of Willie Nelson’s “Funny How Time Slips Away,” with a focus on Jessie Peck’s deep baritone. And by deep, I mean that my chair started shaking.

The rest of the 90 minute set stayed playful and light. Although there were only two people on stage that had been in the group since 1954 (!), they behaved as tightly knit group, working in sync with each other. There were several silly moments where the band members poked fun at each other, challenging one another to various different sing-offs, flirting with the audience members, and so forth. Admittedly, the younger members were much more animated on stage than the older ones, and the young ones respected their elders greatly. Well, aside from an especially sultry vocal from original singer Bobby Smith, where Peck made the crack, “Forgive us for that viagra moment.”

Although the show was fun, I was amazed by the end of it. The stage at Yoshi’s is not the largest on earth. And with a five piece band sharing the stage with five singers, it was impressive that anyone could move at all. Then all members of the group suddenly had giant rubber bands. This was to do a song called “The Rubber Band Man.” The choreography was mighty impressive, with members sliding around stage in the rubber bands, with a dizzying light show that turned the intimate jazz club into a full-on arena show. It was in epic finish to an impressive show!

Setlist:

Could It Be I’m Falling In Love

It’s A Shame

Funny How Time Slips Away

I’ll Be Around

Working My Way Back To You

A Mighty Love

Cupid

Having A Party

Then Came You

The Rubber Band Man

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