Smokey Robinson brings Motown’s 50th birthday to BBC Electric Proms show

Soul legend closes concert series with hit-packed set

‘King of MotownSmokey Robinson paid tribute to the legendary US label last night (October 24) as he closed the BBC Electric Proms with a set ranging from his earliest hits at the label up to songs from this year’s ‘Time Flies When You’re Having Fun’.

Opening with his 1965 hit with The Miracles, ‘Going To A Go-Go’, Robinson, backed by the BBC Concert Orchestra, ranged through songs written and performed by the Miracles, solo numbers and songs written for other Motown artists such as The Temptations, including a three-part-harmony audience singalong to ‘My Girl’, as well as a cover of Norah Jones’ ‘Don’t Know Why’.

Reminding the audience of the anniversary of Motown, of which he was one of the most succesful songwriters and vice-president from 1960 to 1987, Robinson joked: “It got started 20 years before I was born.”

During the set, Robinson, dapper in dark suit jacket and diamond earrings, showed off still-spry dance moves, telling the audience: “We came to have a good time, we came to be intimate, to get closer, to touch, to feel… and everything else. But right now, we are going to boogie.”

Introducing the duet ‘You’re The One For Me’, Robinson explained that his original singing partner for the track, Joss Stone, had been unable to attend as she was in Africa.

Robinson described his musical education growing up with two sisters who would play classic songs on 78rpm records. “Some of you are looking at me like you don’t even know what 45s are,” he laughed, launching into a smooth rendition of ‘Fly Me To The Moon’.

Introducing The Miracles‘The Tears Of A Clown’, Robinson thanked the crowd for making it Motown‘s first UK Number One hit, described how Stevie Wonder had written the music and then brought it to him to complete the song.

As he closed with an emotional ‘Tracks Of My Tears’, Robinson received a standing ovation from the upper tier of the audience.

Smokey Robinson played:

‘Going To A Go-Go’
‘I Second That Emotion’
‘You Really Got A Hold On Me’
‘Ooo Baby Baby’
‘The Way You Do The Things You Do’
‘Get Ready’
‘My Girl’
‘Don’t Know Why’
‘You’re The One For Me’
‘Fly Me To The Moon’
‘Tears Of A Clown’
‘You Are My Girlfriend’
‘Being With You’
‘Time Flies When You’re Having Fun’
‘Just To See Her’
‘Tracks Of My Tears’