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A while ago, I watched “Luther Vandross: Live at Wembley,”
an 81-minute concert taped during his 1988-89 tour and
released on DVD during 2000. At that time, Vandross
(1951-2005) was hugely popular as a Soul/Rhythm & Blues
singer and songwriter, coming to the fore after a ubiquitous
and lucrative career as a backup singer. This ascendancy
included a stint on David Bowie’s “Young Americans” album.
Boasting a range that easily transcended baritone and tenor
classifications, Vandross’ distinctive voice kept him at the
top the charts for decades. He received eight Grammy awards,
the last of which was for the song, “Dance with My Father”
which was recorded before he suffered a massive stroke
during 2003, confining him to a wheelchair for the remaining
years of his life.

For this concert, Vandross performed atop a circular stage
while supported by one male and two female backup singers,
all of whom are extremely talented in their own right. One of
them was the Grammy Award-winner, Lisa Fischer (1958 – ),
who would continue to perform with the Rolling Stones until
2013, and was recently featured in the Academy Award-winning
film, “Twenty Feet from Stardom.” Falsetto master Kevin Owens
(1955 – ) is the author of So Amazing, a 2013 memoir
describing his 20+ years of recording and touring with Vandross,
as well as his success as the lead singer for the group,
“Ray, Goodman & Brown.” During the Wembley concert,
Vandross promoted a then-forthcoming album by Ava Cherry,
another David Bowie alum, after she performed a spirited,
onstage version of “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.”

Nat Adderley, Jr. (1955 – ), one of Vandross’ songwriting
collaborators, was the musical director and keyboardist for
this concert. With the exception of percussionist Steve Crew,
most of the band was positioned offstage and out of the limelight.

Such hits as “Come Back,” “Give Me the Reason,”
“Never Too Much,” and the Burt Bacharach/Hal David
“A House Is Not a Home” were included in this set, and were
accented by effective choreography from Vandross and his singers.
To my ears, these songs were predominantly “bedroom music”
tunes, which I understand played a large part in establishing
Vandross’ fame.

This disc featured good sound quality and adequate
camerawork, and it was nice to see this artist perform during
his prime. A printed biography and discography were also
included. In an effort to broaden my horizons, this disc was
another “first” for me. I found it enjoyable and believe that
Luther Vandross fans will want to check it out.