The Three Degrees (Plus Richie Sampson) – Live Music Review

ALTHOUGH The Three Degrees will celebrate their 60th anniversary next year, they can still move and groove on stage like contenders in Strictly Come Dancing. Tony Adams, eat your heart out!

These marvellous female disco queens from Philadelphia can get an audience off their feet and dancing as easily as robins can launch into song. They’re great entertainment, their music infused with an overload of nostalgia for distant nights in nightclubs dancing round handbags with not a care in the world – a Bacardi and coke in hand. 

While there have been many changes in the line-up since 1963 – some members have either sadly died (Fayette Pinkney) or being struck down with long Covid (Helen Scott) – the brand lives on and their music never ages. 

Disco music forever.  Smiles forever. Vocal harmonies par excellence. Grooving forever. Sparkling choreography. We’ll be dancing to their music in our graves and beyond. 

At Pizza Express Live in Holborn, London, the current line-up (comprising stalwart Valerie Holiday, Freddie Pool and newcomer Tabitha King) completed their six-week UK tour in style as they took the audience back to the 1970s when they enjoyed a string of hits – none bigger than When Will I See You Again. Their music enthralled us all – even Prince Charles (King Charles III) which meant they were known for a while as Charlie’s Angels (Charles wasn’t in the audience although I’m sure he would have thoroughly enjoyed himself). 

With their dresses shining like living, breathing glitter balls and their slick moves delivered with military precision, they rattled out one familiar song after another. The likes of Year of Decision, Take Good Care Of Yourself, My Simple Heart and You’ll Never Find Another Love. The audience loved it – and so did the trio. They simply love being on stage. 

As the show progressed and more bums got off seats, the tempo moved up a level. I’m So Excited was followed by Dirty Ol’ Man, disco favourite Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now and of course When Will I See You Again. The finale was The Pride Of Philadelphia followed by an epic Boogie Wonderland.  You couldn’t help but dance and sing along. Glorious entertainment. 

Although both Pool and King were excellent, The Three Degrees are built around Holiday who has been part of the set up for 55 years. She’s perfection personified, usually leading from the front. An incredible performer. Whatever she takes, I want. She’s ageless. 

It was rather apt that as Holiday wrapped up a brilliant night, football team West Bromwich Albion were playing against Blackpool. A team that back in the seventies had their own thrilling Three Degrees – the mercurial Laurie Cunningham (no longer with us), the gifted Cyrille Regis (also, sadly passed) and the elegant Brendan Batson. Wonderful pictures remain of the two sets of Three Degrees meeting on a bitterly cold Midlands day. Search them out – Holiday is there in all her glory cosying up to Cunningham. 

With Richie Sampson (a former member of the Drifters) opening the night’s entertainment with a number of soul hits from the likes of Errol Brown (Hot Chocolate), The Real Thing and of course The Drifters, there was only one question on the audience’s lips as they left to face a dysfunctional public transport system: ‘When Will I See You [The Three Degrees] Again?’ Pretty soon I hope. The 60th anniversary could well be one big disco party. The longest running female vocal group in history. And there’s plenty more to come. 


The Three Degrees

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