O'jays And Levert: Family Act At Shubert

Posted: February 10, 1990

It was a special night at the sold-out Shubert Theater last night. Especially familial, especially romantic, especially sappy and especially soulful.

The occasion was the first of six "Family Affair" shows this weekend by the father and son R & B acts, the O'Jays and LeVert. Eddie LeVert, lead singer of classic soulsters the O'Jays, is proud papa of Gerald and Sean, two- thirds of LeVert, a slick pop group that walks a commercially effective line between lush, "Quiet Storm" ballads and credibly funky urban dance tracks.

Though LeVert is the better seller these days, it has rightly taken its place at the bottom of the bill. After all, it was the O'Jays (Walter Williams, Sammy Strain and the elder LeVert) whose rough and tumble soul defined the "Philly sound" in the pre-disco '70s. Predictably, it was their locomoting, gospel-inflected hits such as "Back Stabbers," "For the Love of Money" and "Love Train" that generated the most heat last night, even when shortened to fit into medley form. The surprise was that the updated sound of songs from their comeback album, Serious (EMI), went over nearly as well.

LeVert wowed the crowd with its roly-poly choreography and confident stage show. The LeVert brothers and partner Marc Gordon are polished beyond their years. Lead singer Gerald's every move seems practiced, his every gyration planned; but in the end his all-out engery wins out. He's a pro.

The group members joined each other at several junctures, yukking through comedic routines and trying out dance steps in mock competitiveness. The show opened with feel-good, sing-along versions of Sister Sledge's "We Are Family" and Sly Stone's "Family Affair."

Local comedian Ralph Harris warmed up the eager crowd with a laid-back, chatty performance, amiable enough, if too derivative of Eddie Murphy.

The show will be repeated at 8 and 11:30 tonight and 3 and 8 p.m. tomorrow. Some tickets remain available for all performances.

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