To pick up from there, we wandered towards the entertainment centre of the complex, the Late Lounge where the evening’s entertainment headliners were the four piece vocal group, Fortissimo. The evening was billed as 50 years of Motown.
So just before the appointed start time, we made our way into the auditorium and ened up on a table right down at the front of the room, near the stage.
Now I am a real fan of the classic Motown songs and I am fairly knowledgeable about soul music from that era. I was well aware that we weren’t going to see Diana Ross and The Supremes or The Four Tops, but I wasn’t entirely prepared for four young white people singing some of Detroit’s finest songs.
However, that’s exactly what we got.
The two men and two women that make up Fortissimo are all very competent singers, but it just didn’t quite gel for me, nor, I suspect did it for Sue who was keen to leave fairly early in the set.
However, just as Sue was urging me to move, the set reached the real stand-out number for me – a spine-tingling version of Gladys Knight and The Pip’s Midnight Train to Georgia. I sat tight and tried to “Shush” Sue, but this is never an easy thing to achieve.
Fortissimo’s version of this song was ALMOST as good as this one.
Having acknowledged that this was indeed the high spot of the set, I would also point out that I wouldn’t expect it to have even been included. This song was originally released in 1973 on Buddah Records after Gladys Knight and The Pips had left the Motown stable. Wikipedia has more on this.
In addition, a large proportion of the set comprised of classic soul songs from the Atlantic label. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love these songs too, but when more than half the set turned out to be non-Motown songs, I felt a little cheated.
The foursome were standing on the stage in front of a backdrop that featured the Motown logo and the 50 years legend. I believe that Motown’s incredible catalogue could have provided more than enough material for the whole set and still pleased the non-specialist audience.
Anyway, we after leaving the auditorium, we bought a drink from the Pavilion Bar (cider for me, J2O for Sue) and sat a little further away from the stage for the rest of the set.
With this, our Friday night ended and after a great night’s sleep, it was time for Saturday, Sue’s Birthday. I’ll spare you the photo of Sue propped up in bed with her birthday cards, but I’ll treat you to this vision of birthday loveliness.
I was determined that Saturday was going to be a great day for Sue for her birthday and this seemed to be the case from the moment she opened the curtains to see a squirrel looking up at her, the air filled with birdsong and, after a few moments, a visit from George, the hotel’s resident male peacock.
George was the hotel’s original peacock and has been in residence for some years. Along the way, a female companion, Mildred was brought in and they now have a young male offspring, whose picture may well appear here in due course. The two peacocks are, of course, named after the married couple in the 1970’s TV sitcom.
This story continues in part 3 when we take a walk around the gardens and visit the Spa.