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Review: Diana Ross brings 2022 Cambridge Club Festival to a close

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Backed by a large ensemble, which included a brass section and four backing vocalists, legendary soul singer Diana Ross performed many of her best-known hits as the sun went down at the 2022 Cambridge Club Festival.

The Cambridge Club Festival, Sunday June 12, 2022
The Cambridge Club Festival, Sunday June 12, 2022

Having enjoyed my day at the festival, laughing at some great comedians (Emmanuel Sonubi was a particular highlight) and seeing the always lovely Gabrielle treat the crowd to some select tunes from her impressive repertoire, the moment I had been waiting for came when Diana Rosss band came out on stage at around 8.45pm.

The anticipation built thanks to some 'teaser videos and finally the lady herself came out to the strains of I’m Coming Out, receiving a momentous cheer from a crowd that included people of all ages.

She looked amazing in a tropical-style long dress as she delivered this memorable tune, a hit way back in 1980. A more recent song (More Today Than Yesterday from 2006) followed and then it was back to where it all began with six Supremes songs in a row.

The audience loved it, belting out the words to the likes of Where Did Our Love Go?, Baby Love, Stop! In the Name of Love and You Can’t Hurry Love. They really dont make songs like that anymore.

Speaking of timeless pop masterpieces, Chain Reaction was all-cares-in-the-world-abandoning fun at its absolute best and also saw Ms Rosss first outfit change of the evening: an elaborate red number.

Upside Down was another emphatic sing-along moment - I’m Still Waiting was beautifully sandwiched between the two - with the crowd enthusiastically giving it their all. After the song had finished, Ms Ross started singing the chorus quietly to herself and before you knew it we were all back again - it got to the point where I thought we were going to be singing it forever!

Another outfit change came - this time a sparkly black number - ahead of the exuberant Why Do Fools Fall in Love, which showed some of the original video, filmed in Las Vegas, on the screen behind.

Full of energy, Diana looked and sounded great. She joked that she was 47 years old, revealing that she is in fact 78. “I feel 47 though,” said the evergreen entertainer, who thankfully kept the talking to a minimum during the show, preferring instead to focus on singing.

If the World Just Danced was an upbeat modern-sounding dance track off her latest album, Thank you, while, in sharp contrast, Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)'s gentle soothing melody was calming and heartwarming.

Its just a shame that so many people - as they did throughout - had to chat non-stop (a common problem at gigs these days). Ain’t No Mountain High Enough was then a suitably rousing follow-up to Mahogany.

At that point I was starting to think that, apart from 1991’s One Shining Moment, Id heard pretty much every Diana Ross song Id wanted to hear and was ready to leave, happy and fulfilled to have finally seen this genuine superstar after a 30-odd year wait.

She then launched into the Gloria Gaynor disco favourite, I Will Survive, a song Ive never really cared for so thought it was a good time to head for the exit. It will be interesting to see who the Club Festival gets next year to top the Queen of Soul!

The Cambridge Club Festival, Sunday, June 12, 2022
The Cambridge Club Festival, Sunday, June 12, 2022

As an interesting side note, Denise Van Outen and TV chef Tristan Welch, of Parkers Tavern, Cambridge, cooked backstage at the festival for Ms Ross, after the headliner expressed specific culinary desires, and was unable to get the food she desired.

With only an hour’s notice, and already on his way to the festival, Tristan wrote the menu in the taxi and diverted to his kitchen to pick up the rest of his ingredients. Along with his friend Denise Van Outen, together they crafted a gourmet selection of Ms Ross’s favourites backstage to ensure she was well fuelled for her performance.

The duo, who have appeared on ITV’s Cooking with the Stars together, teamed up with Gilbert Holmes, executive head chef at The Ned (the hospitality partner to the festival). Tristan said: “When I got the call to come to the rescue and cook for Diana Ross, I said to myself stop in the name of food! I couldn’t let her go hungry!”

On the menu was heirloom tomato and chervil salad, Caesar salad, steak with sauté new potatoes and tender stem broccoli, and lemon sole with samphire, nut brown butter.

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