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Thursday, 15 June, 2000, 10:11 GMT 11:11 UK
Ross gets back in the groove
The Supremes
Supremely confident: Diana Ross and the girls on stage
Motown favourites The Supremes received a rapturous reception when they kicked off their reunion tour in Philadelphia on Wednesday night.

The audience did not seem to mind that Diana Ross was the only original member on show as the group belted out the hits from the 60s and 70s.

The gig at the First Union Spectrum was the first of 30 planned dates on a tour that was dogged with controversy before it began.

The Supremes
Taking a bow - The Supremes milk the applause at the end of their first reunion concert

But once on stage, Ross put the troubles behind her and quickly got back in the old routine - to the delight of the crowd.

At one stage, it was unclear whether the tour would get off the ground, after founder member Mary Wilson refused to sign up.

Wilson publicly complained that she was being offered only $2m (1.3m), compared to Ross' reported fee of at least $15m (10m).

To make matters worse, Cindy Birdsong, who replaced the late Florence Ballard in The Supremes, also decided not to be a part of the revival tour.

Instead Ross was accompanied by Scherrie Payne and Lynda Laurence, who joined the group after Ross and Wilson left.


And the trio turned in a credible performance, with faithful renditions of classics like Baby Love, Where Did Our Love Go and Come See About Me drawing an enthusiastic response.

Footage of Martin Luther King and civil right protests in the South preceded the show and if you stood at the back and squinted, you could be forgiven for thinking you had gone back in time 35 years.

Diana Ross
Hairy moment: Diana Ross shakes it all about during The Supremes concertt

In fact, Ross, now in her 50s, got so carried away with it all that at one stage she appeared in a pink, bell-bottomed trouser suit which had clearly not aged as well as her voice.

She wisely left most of the dancing to the 20-something troupe behind her and repeatedly thanked the audience, telling them she was "truly honoured to be onstage with two new girlfriends".

The Supremes closed the show with a rousing rendition of Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive and, judging by the sustained applause as they left the stage, the rest of the tour should be a breeze.

See also:

13 Oct 99 | Entertainment
Diana Ross back in Britain
05 Apr 00 | Entertainment
Supremes return for tour
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