Going to a Show-Show

By Dwayne Ballen, The Saunders Report Guest columnist/award-winning sports journalist and music fan


He glided, sashayed, danced, playfully teased, constantly moved from one end of the stage to the other. He dazzled with his signature falsetto as he held the crowd in his thrall. Yes, folks. sixty-one years after first admonishing us to "Shop Around," Smokey Robinson is still awe-inspiring.


During a recent performance at the Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts in Greensboro, the, 82-years-young legend took the concert crowd on an entertaining and engaging trip through his celebrated musical career.


The esteemed publisher of this esteemed website wrote a recent story about his refusal to see any concert sponsored by ticket- and concert-giant Ticketmaster. That means he won't be attending any shows any time soon.

I am no fan of Ticketmaster, either, but there was no way my wife and I were going to miss the opportunity to see the man many consider America's greatest living writer of love songs.




Throughout the ninety minutes Smokey was on stage, we were - along with the rest of the audience - on our feet, applauding, singing along and simply amazed by the performance of the man who has gifted the world some of the greatest love songs ever written. The cultural icon, a committed vegetarian, didn’t simply stand in one place and sing a few hits, which he has certainly earned the right to do.

No, he performed!


As he led into “I Love Your Face” he strolled to the front of the stage, dropped into a baseball catcher’s crouch, and engaged a female fan as he serenaded her. This lasted a few minutes, in that crouch! He easily arose and continued telling her how he loved her face.

I guess that’s what daily workouts and yoga will do for you. Did I mention he's 82?

A survivor of a serious bout with Covid-19, Robinson commands the stage with the vigor and confidence that many, sixty years his junior, could only wish for.


The audience members got a good workout, too, because his rousing turns on classics Ooh Baby Baby, Going to a Go-go and Tracks of My Tears prompted us to stand and applaud his virtuosity. Onstage, Smokey made not a single concession to aging. He looks so amazing that it's likely many in the audience rushed to order the line of skin care products his wife and he created.


“Now that is a sexy man!” This proclamation came from the row behind us, one full of women who appeared to be in their thirties and forties.

Yep, Smoke, as his Motown friends call him, has still got it.


Granted, Father Time awaits us all, but watching Smokey Robinson move moves one to make every effort to delay that inevitable meeting. The next time one of my 50-something contemporaries complains about getting older, with no real medical obstacles, I’ll just suggest they go see Smokey on his current tour.

What a show-show!








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Meet Barry Saunders

For over 20 years, Barry was a columnist for The News & Observer in Raleigh, NC. He also wrote for other publications, such as the Atlanta Constitution and the Richmond County Daily Journal. Often described as powerfully honest and illustratively funny, Barry's writing is both loved and hated by readers- sometimes simultaneously.  

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