Diana Ross is still the boss on stage at age 80

Concert at Chastain Park Amphitheatre shows she is still coming out and slaying it

Chastain Park Amphitheatre, which currently has the corporate name Cadence Bank attached to it, opened in 1944 as Atlanta’s first sizable outdoor music venue and it remains beloved to this day.

That same year, Diana Ross entered the world in Detroit. She would carve out a luminescent superstar career, first with the Supremes in the 1960s, then as a solo artist in the 1970s and 1980s. And she, too, remains beloved to this day.

Chastain and Ross would cross paths numerous times over the years, doing so yet again Friday night on an uncommonly cool, dry evening, picture-perfect weather for star gazing on multiple levels.

Ross chose to go “no tables,” which meant no clinking wine glasses, fake candles and picnic baskets. All eyes were on her, not the brie and crackers.

She also opted for no opening act. Subtext: Ross is her own opening act.

So at 8 p.m. sharp, the show opened with an eight-minute video retrospective of her illustrious career, an appetizer of sorts as lines of fans were still waiting to enter the nearly full 6,900-seat open air theater. And just as she’s done for almost every concert since 1980, she opened with her joyous dance classic “I’m Coming Out,” setting the stage for a fast-paced, shimmery ride through decades of amazing tunes.

She efficiently ran through a laundry list of Supremes songs and solo hits including “Stop! In The Name of Love,” “You Can’t Hurry Love” and “Baby Love,” along with solo smashes like “Touch Me in the Morning” and “The Boss.”

Diana Ross during "Love Hangover" at Cadence Bank Ampitheatre at Chastain Park on May 10, 2024. RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com


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‘I’m so grateful’

Ross was radiant, her voice still bringing a silky effervescence. Her nine-piece band and four back-up singers provided a dynamic backdrop. She doesn’t run around the stage the way she did in the 1980s, but she can still shimmy her hips with a smile while singing “Upside Down.”

“I’m 47!” she said midway through the concert with a twinkle in her eye, then mock corrected herself. “You know that I’m 80 years old? They say move it or lose it, so I’m gonna move it!”

And to prove this wasn’t 1977, she didn’t ask everyone to raise their lighters during “Reach Out (And Touch Somebody’s Hand). Instead, she said, “If you have your iPhones or cell phones, turn the flashlight on and hold them high in the air. Now move it around!”

She then asked the crowd to repeat a favorite mantra:

I’m so grateful/ for all the blessings in my life/ for there are many

All is well/ Thank you, thank you thank you

Just 45 minutes into the concert, she had reached her 15th song and slowed down with a loving version of the Billie Holiday torch song “Don’t Explain,” which Ross first sang in 1972 in her acting debut as Holiday in “Lady Sings the Blues.”

This was Ross’ first post-pandemic concert in Atlanta, having performed on March 1, 2020 at the Fox Theatre, less than two weeks before the world shut down.

She told the crowd the COVID-19 shutdown inspired her 2021 album “Thank You.”

“We recorded it virtually,” she said. “Every song was a reflection of my life spending two years not being able to tour and see you.”

She sang a couple of cuts from “Thank You” including the inspirational “Tomorrow” and the anthemic “If the World Just Danced,” which the world did do on Tik Tok during that time of isolation.

Diana Ross dueted "Count on Me" with her daughter Rhonda Ross Kendrick during the May 10, 2024 concert at Cadence Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park. RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Credit: RODNEY HO/rhoa

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Credit: RODNEY HO/rhoa

Family affair

Ross, while making a costume change, gave her daughter and singer songwriter Rhonda Ross Kendrick some stage time for her own solo work which had a more rock edge. They also sang a touching, heartfelt duet “Count on Me.”

Ross finished the night first with a spirited cover of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” her first solo chart topper in 1970 followed by a declaration of her own resilience via the Gloria Gaynor song “I Will Survive.” Proving it’s not just about her, she gave each band member a moment in the sun, including the backup singers.

The band also cheekily interpolated a bit of DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win,” a nod to a woman who has absolutely nothing to lose at this point in her life.

At 9:35 p.m., 87 minutes after she arrived on stage, Ross triumphantly sashayed off, allowing her and most of her largely 50-plus audience to get in bed long before the 11 p.m. news. (In contrast, the Wilson sisters of Heart, who are in their 70s, began their set at State Farm Arena in downtown Atlanta during Ross’ final song.)