Nostalgia is a tricky proposition for touring musicians: Too little of it, and you're likely to alienate longtime fans; too much of it, and you're likely to be dismissed as irrelevant. No one wants to be irrelevant. And yet it's generally agreed that it's better to be irrelevant than broke. Hence the latest oldies soul revue rolls into town next week.
When the O'Jays, the Dramatics and the Temptations Review Featuring Dennis Edwards take turns on stage at the Fox Theatre April 14, their setlists probably won't yield many surprises. But no one is likely to care. With back catalogs as rich as these, who wants to hear painful stabs at hipness? Leave that to the Isley Brothers.
Of the three acts coming to town, the most nostalgia-driven is undoubtedly the Temptations Review, headed by Dennis Edwards, who served as lead singer for the Temptations after David Ruffin's dismissal from the band in the late '60s. Much of Edwards and company's current live set consists of hits from his stint in the Tempts -- "Wish It Would Rain," "Cloud Nine," "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" and "Psychedelic Shack" among them. And of course they throw in the obligatory "My Girl," despite the fact that Edwards wasn't in the band when it was recorded. Nostalgia, it seems, has little regard for historical accuracy.
The Dramatics and the O'Jays are a slightly different story in that both acts continue to record new material. In the case of the O'Jays, they still manage to score the occasional minor hit. But don't worry. They'll still play "Backstabbers" and "Love Train." The Dramatics will play "In the Rain," and "Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get." And you'll go home happily cloaked in the warm glow of yesteryear, relevance be damned.