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Diana Ross concerts at the Forum

On Feb. 6, 1981, and Oct. 3, 1982, Los Angeles Times photographers covered Diana Ross concerts at the Forum in Inglewood. The first, a live concert recorded by CBS Television, was covered by now-retired staff photographer Larry Armstrong. The second concert was photographed by now-former staff photographer George Rose.

In the Oct. 5, 1982, Los Angeles Times, Robert Hilburn reviewed the second Diana Ross concert:

For much of the time Sunday at the Forum, I couldn’t tell whether Diana Ross’ “concert” was (a) a mass exercise class, (b) an I’m OK/You’re OK therapy session or (c) an emergency test of the house’s total lighting system.

Personally, I would have preferred more of (d) an old-fashion concert.

Where some performers try to make audience participation part of their show, Ross seemed intent on making the audience her entire show. The Forum marquee should have read “Diana Ross and a cast of thousands.” The thousands in the case would have been the audience.

From the start, Ross tried to establish a party atmosphere. She repeatedly urged members of the capacity crowd to reach out and touch their neighbor’s hand, either as part of a demonstration of unity or as an exercise drill to go along with one of her lively dance tunes.

Performing in the round, Ross also kept turning on the house lights so she could see the audience…

For large segments of the show, Ross seemed as intent on talking to the audience in an upbeat, family reunion manner as she did on singing: “My goodness, you look beautiful…Have a good time…Turn the house lights up again: I want to see everybody…You’re looking wonderful.” And on and on.

This hostess role isn’t easy on stage and Ross handled it convincingly. There was a genuineness and warmth about her–as if she were trying to share some of the joy in her life with those who have made her success possible. On that level, it was a generous performance. And the audience appeared enthralled most of the evening….

The above photo gallery includes images from the Feb. 6, 1981, and Oct. 3, 1982, Diana Ross concerts at the Forum.

scott.harrison@latimes.com

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