Gig review: Martha Reeves at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

Martha Reeves
Martha Reeves
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There aren’t many 76-year-old Motown legends that’d spend their Tuesday night in a Leeds social club, telling the gathered crowd that she plans to ‘make love to them all with her music’.

But then again, most 76-year olds-aren’t Martha Reeves. Notching up well over 50 years in the business, for her it’s showtime all the time, decked out in sequins and ready for yet another victory lap of the UK.

Positively emanating warmth and humour, Martha and her sisters Lois and Delphine put on their show with an effortlessness that only comes from years of practice. Daughters number three, seven and ten of 12, their family bond is visible, barely glancing at one another to indicate a pause, a clap or an incitement of some audience participation.

And audience participation they get – whoops, hollers and “oh yeah’s” greet every one of Reeves’ impressive runs, moving seamlessly through the likes of Holy Highway, Jimmy Mack and a particularly fantastic rendition of (Love Is Like A) Heat Wave.

Flanked by her northern band, The Haggis Horns, we’re also treated to a selection of covers. Something by the Beatles gets a soulful makeover, and a take on Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On allows each instrumentalist to truly shine, taking their moment in the spotlight before being playfully batted away by the lady herself, looking upon them with a fondness normally reserved for one’s children.

It’s not all throwback nostalgia though – a newer track called Watch Your Back stands out as a true highlight, a lyrical homage to the strong parentage that brought the Reeves children to stardom.

Closing in on 11pm, there’s a cheeky glint in Martha’s eye. “They told me I got 90 minutes...but I don’t wear a watch,” she quips. We all know what’s coming. The horns ring out, and suddenly we’re Dancing In The Street, reveling in the glory of a single that still sounds as fresh as it did over 50 years ago. Parents link arms with their kids, students film on their phones and even if for a moment, we’re all totally lost in the moment.

Maybe age truly is just a number after all.