Ann Arbor Observer

Motown soul

by Patrick Dunn

From the November, 2015 issue

From the moment Laura Rain and the Caesars take the stage, they give the impression of a distinctly old-fashioned kind of band. For one thing, the show begins with only the Caesars onstage and Rain nowhere in sight. The band--guitarist George Friend, drummer Ron Pangborn, bassist Gwen Hayes, and keyboard player Phil Hale--lays down some soulful R&B instrumentals. Friend and Hayes smile at each other, playfully trading licks. The band is warming up, but they're also warming up the crowd for the arrival of the main attraction: Rain herself. After three instrumental tunes and a big windup of an introduction, Rain takes the stage in a red top, a black skirt, metallic gold tights, and high-heeled boots. With a swelling beehive hairdo and cat glasses, she's an outrageous physical presence to rival another soul master who knew how to make an entrance: James Brown. And when she opens her mouth to sing, Rain easily defends her claim to Brown's soul legacy........