Kool & The Gang and Gladys Knight – Hollywood Bowl

At one of the great venues in Los Angeles, two veteran acts brought their distinctive stylings for an evening of funk, RnB and soul.

Kool & The Gang have been successfully honing their craft since they broke out of jazzbo obscurity in New Jersey in the 1970s. With founding members and brothers Robert “Kool” Bell on bass and Ronald Bell on sax leading a full stage of musicians, at the Hollywood Bowl they tore through a one hour set of energetic funk with a solid dose of hits.

They got the crowd on their feet with hits like “Fresh,” “Jungle Boogie” and “Get Down On It.” The crowd was rewarded with the inevitable set closer, their #1 hit “Celebration.” Most folks were back on their feet, evoking many a prior party playlist.

Kool & the GangGladys Knight’s career stretches back even further, and she had the tougher challenge at the Bowl after the high energy of Kool & The Gang’s set.

She opened with one of the evening’s many cover songs, a subtle reading of Chicago’s “Hard to Say I’m Sorry.” Her nine back up singers ensured the focus remained on the vocals, although at her tender age of 70 Knight showed no signs of losing her highs or lows. She looked vibrant, and did not phone in her performance. She maintained her trademark impeccable microphone control.

One of the more clever covers paired Knight with one of her backup singers. He sang Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man” and then Knight segued into “If I Were Your Woman,” the song she made famous in 1970 with the Pips.

GLADYS KNIGHT - photo 1Knight’s only overly emoted song was “The Way We Were.” But that was quickly forgotten when she assayed her classics “Neither One of Us” and “Midnight Train to Georgia.”

All in, it was a great double bill.


Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.