By Warren Roseborough, The New Tri-State Defender

When I think of R&B in the ’70s, the Mighty Mighty O’Jays – one of the top singing groups of all time –  come readily to mind.

The O’Jays are on their farewell tour and one of their last stops is Memphis and the Southern Heritage Classic. Headliners Thursday night at the Classic Concert presented by AARP Tennessee, I could hardly wait to get to the Orpheum Theatre for the “Last Stop on the Love Train. The Final Tour.”

They did not disappoint.

With lead vocalist Eddie Levert out with COVID-19, I seriously wondered what level of a show there would be without the heart and soul of the group. I need not have worried.

In stepped Nicholas Davis, allowing the O’Jays to sail smoothly on. Anyone who closed their eyes would have understandably thought that Eddie Levert had somehow recovered and made the concert after all.

Walter Williams, a mainstay of the group, told the audience that Eddie is doing much better.

Walter Williams of the O’Jays singing “Stairway to Heaven.” (Photo: Warren Roseborough/The New Tri-State Defender)

So, with Davis seemingly channeling Levert, the crowd was treated to a thoroughly satisfying concert that featured many of the O’Jays’ classics, including “Backstabbers,” “Love Train,” “Living for the Weekend,” “Brandy” and “We Cried Together.”

Opening for the O’Jays was comedian Jay Lamont, who was hilarious imitating an array of singers, notably Michael Jackson, Prince, Luther Vandross, Phillip Bailey, Minnie Riperton and Patty Labelle. He was off the chain.