Diana Ross dazzles on her first US tour since 2020

“I love you!” said singer Diana Ross, taking the stage just outside Chicago at the Ravinia Festival on Sunday. “I really do!”

Sunday marked only the fourth night of this leg of Ross’ first North American tour since stepping back from the road amid the pandemic in March 2020.

While the Supremes remain the second best-selling girl group of all time, behind the Spice Girls, Ross has also sold over 100 million records as a solo artist, combined sales that make them one of the top sales all the time.

Leading a 12-piece band that included piano, keyboards, drums, percussion, bass, guitar, saxophone and a quartet of backing vocals, Ross wasted no time in listen to the hits, “I’m Coming Out” kicking off.

“We’re going back to the good old days!” said Ross, beginning a four-song Supremes suite with “Baby Love.”

The singer put her hand over her eyes, gazing happily at the crowd, assuming influence as the crowd participated in the vocals during “Stop! In the name of love.”

Ross fanned out onstage on a hot summer night, wrapping up “You Can’t Hurry Love” before cutting straight into “Love Child,” shimmering drums and extra percussion as the band hit an early groove. Saxophone and guitar solos rang out as Ross left the stage for the first of five wardrobe changes, a siren in red as she returned to the stage for “The Boss.”

“Put your hands up, move the energy,” Ross asked the audience as the house lights came on. “I am so grateful for all the blessings in my life. And there are a lot of them,” she said, creating “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand).”

Onstage, Ross was energetic and engaging, quick with a joke in his banter with the Chicagoland audience.

“Can you feel the music?” Ross asked rhetorically, moving his hair to see better. “I must see you over there moving your bodies!” she exclaimed, the band snaking in the signature bassline of Nile Rodgers’ disco hit “Upside Down.” “If I can move mine to 47…are you listening?” she joked, beaming smile displayed at 78 years old. “You have to move those hips. But I have to be careful, right? Because I will feel it later!

Ross wandered off to the right, stopping in front of the piano, leaning down at the foot of the stage to help a pair of front-row fans desperately trying to line up a selfie. “Did you understand?” she asked, stopping in the pose.

Back on stage in a black dress, Ross and company slowed things down, with the singer channeling Billie Holiday as she returned to her 1972 starring role as a jazz singer.

“We will do it from lady sings the blues“, said Ross, introducing one of the indisputable highlights of the evening in “Don’t Explain”.

In his best lead vocal of the night, Ross took over as the four backing singers left the stage, transforming Ravinia’s 3,350-seat pavilion into an intimate jazz club, playing with the crowd during a closing vocal. breathless on the Billie Holiday classic.

Shifting gears, the band picked up the beat, heading to “If the World Just Danced” from Ross’ latest studio album, his 25th and first since 2006, shifting from a docile jazz hall vibe to a club banger of dance.

“It’s so nice to be back with you guys,” Ross said. “These last two years of confinement – it was hard,” she observed, explaining the roots of the new album Thanks, one she recorded virtually in her garage during quarantine for release via Decca Records last November. “I wrote a few songs – and I almost never write songs. This album is about gratitude,” she explained. “You have to seek them out. Because I really put my heart and soul in these songs.

On his way to the encore with his version of Frankie Lymon’s “Why do Fools Fall in Love” and “Theme from MahoganyRoss was joined on stage by her daughter Rhonda Ross as the opening act for Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.”

Ultimately, Ross used the show’s final moments to test out a few additional new tracks, eschewing the usual setlist in one inspirational moment, rolling out an encore of all new original tracks at 78.

“If I’m wrong, forgive me. I just want to do something new for you. Let’s see if we can do it,” Ross said, snapping a photo of “I Still Believe.”

Seemingly invigorated after more than two years off the road, Diana Ross was a force for good during a long performance in Highland Park, Illinois.

“It’s the title of the album and it’s dedicated to each and every one of you,” the singer said, the piano blaring in the final moments of the show. “Thanks.”

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