by Terri D’Richards
WARNING: attending a performance of Human Nature can lead to serious hand-clapping, foot-stopping, dancing-in-your-seat and aisles behavior ? not to mention, singing along.
At a recent performance, audience members succumbed to all the above as Human Nature served up their unique brand of classic Motown with a subtle, yet distinct modern twist. ?There is such beauty in the original material,? says Human Nature member Phil Burton ?We didn?t want to make a carbon copy of the songs, but we didn?t want to change them into something they weren?t, either.?
Brothers Andrew and Mike Tierney, along with Phil Burton and Toby Allen began honing their Motown chops 22 years ago while still attending high school in their native Sydney, Australia. A more unlikely combination ? classic Motor City Motown and 4 mates from Down Under ? is difficult to imagine. But these lads successfully prove that a sincere love and respect for the material overrides all else, as they seamlessly blend their own arrangements and harmonies into the songs for a faithful yet updated result that is just plain fun for all generations, whether they are Motown aficionados or simply fans of great music impeccably presented.
The group?s success includes reaching the status of Australia?s leading pop vocal group, releasing nine albums world-wide, five #1 records in their native continent and millions sold around the world. Other highlights include the group serving as opening act for legends such as Celine Dion and Michael Jackson in Europe and Australia, and the five-times-platinum status of their chart-topping Motown tribute ?Reach Out?. That achievement ultimately attracted the attention of famed songwriter Smokey Robinson, who recorded ?Get Ready? with the group and presented them exclusively at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas, where they have been in residence for 2 ? years now. They also continue performing around the world including a recent appearance on Dancing With The Stars.
Their Las Vegas act warms up the audience pre-show with some of their recorded tracks accompanying Human Nature fun facts up on the video screen. Yes, some audience members begin their seat-dancing behavior at this point. Then Human Nature takes the stage, ably backed by their 7-piece band, lead by musical director Ronnie Foster. A relative rarity these days for Las Vegas shows, the live band serves as an integral ?5th member? of the group, lending an appropriate texture to the presentation that recorded backing tracks couldn?t deliver.
The show encompasses a full range of depth within the Motown catalog including Marvin Gaye?s classic, ?What?s Goin? On? from the label?s later period, the show-stopping Supremes standard ?Stop in the Name of Love? and a poignant rendition of The Jackson 5?s ?I?ll Be There?. Video interludes round out the presentation and lend further character to the group. When they take the stage for their final set of infectious feel-good classics audience members are already on their feet so ?Get Ready? for a good time and go see Human Nature.