Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Mary Wilson and the Chi-Lites Assembly Hall Theatre, Royal Tunbridge Wells

Mary Wilson
with Special Guests The Chi-Lites
Assemby Hall Theatre
Royal Tunbridge Wells
15th March 2011

The Chi-Lites

2011 must be the year of the great gig at the Assembly Hall Theatre in Royal Tunbridge Wells. Chas and Dave, Ben E King with Gary US Bonds and now Mary Wilson and the Chi-Lites all receiving massive standing ovations from appreciative Tunbridge Wells audiences.

OK lets be honest, unlike many of the soul loving Tunbridge Wells audience, I had never heard of the Chi-Lites and even when they sung their greatest hits I can't say I was familiar with them.

Marshall Thompson, Frank Reed and Fred Simon make up this super harmonious soul group with Marshall being the only original member in the line-up.

I have to be honest though but despite the fact I had never appreciated the tracks of the Chi-Lites like "Have You Seen Her" and "Oh Girl" before it didn't stop me thoroughly enjoying this initiation.

Fred has been with the group a couple of years whilst Frank who's vocal range is formidable as lead singer joined around 23 years ago. Marshall who has more energy than many a man 20 years his junior is the only original member of the Chi-Lites still performing. After an incredible 51 years with the group his energy and enthusiasm really is something to behold.

With a beautiful sound and Frank even coming down into the auditorium to sing they deserved every single moment of the massive ovation they received from the Tunbridge Wells crowd as we got to the interval.

On a footnote here the Chi-Lites signed albums and photos during the interval and they stayed behind after the show to provide autographs for any fans who missed them in the break. Marshall continuing to defy his age by being the only artist I have ever seen signing autographs standing on a table and chair. A quite amazing group with a remarkable founder member. 

Mary Wilson

The ex member of The Supremes got a loud, appreciate reception the moment she walked on the stage and this was an enthusiasm that was not to diminish for the rest of the show.

Mary's incredible, powerful vocals were accompanied by her wonderful backing singers Parnell Marcano and Lucy Shropshire. Her band were, perhaps inevitably, using some of the most impressive instruments I have seen on one stage in quite a while and as a result the sound was perfect.

It was actually refreshing to be able to see the whole of the magnificent, large, Assembly Hall stage in this show. It seems a shame that the council have plans to demolish this theatre and the adjoining buildings soon, although an alternative is planned.

Diva? Well yes and no. The traditional use of diva was applied to somebody with exceptional talent. If we are using this meaning of the word then Ms Wilson is indeed a worthy recipient of the diva title. However if we are looking at the now well used derogatory use of the word for an artist who is unreasonably demanding and full of themselves I don't think we can apply this to Mary. Not in the slightest.

I don't think the "derogatory diva" would be seen inviting the "commoners" of  Royal Tunbridge Wells on stage with her and letting them demonstrate their Stop in the name of love dancing 'skills'

Nor do I think such a diva would hang around in the theatre for as long as is required after the show to sign anything fans required and pose for photos too. Diva's certainly charge more than £6 for a programme and normally sneak out of a theatre via a side door to avoid meeting the 'ordinary' people (recollections of a certain artist from last year come to mind).

With a show in excess of 2 hours and a further 45 minutes getting autographs and photos done together with a signing for Great Ormond Street by Starcards.org (thank you so much Mary and Marshall) this was a very long day for all involved. Yet at no times did the artists show any signs of being frustrated by such a late finish. American artists always seem to be amongst the friendliest performers.

This was yet another huge night to remember in the current season at the Assembly Hall Theatre. Music fans have really been spoiled lately in Tunbridge Wells.

Tonight was the icing on the cake with classic hits from her group days of course being featured together with many other popular tracks. So every track went down incredibly well from the classic Floy Joy to the great 'singalong' track River Deep Mountain High.

This wasn't just a good gig at the Assembly Hall - it was SUPREME!

Created with flickr slideshow.
Print This Entry


  1. keep up the good work Ms Wilson Your new CD Life been good to me Is GREAT

  2. This is a WONDERFUL Review of a wonderful set of performers and I would like to commend you on your enthusiastic and effective portrayal of a 'SUPREME NIGHT'! Ms. Wilson has always been the consumate performer on every POINT! And it seems no less so here with your recall of this special night that had me sooo wishing that 'I' could've BEEN there! Thank you for 'almost' Putting me there! Blessings to You, and to Marshall, and to Mary Wilson The Grand SUPREME!


Thank you in advance for your show comment or feedback