On Sunday, thousands of concert-goers from all walks of life, decked out in their Sunday best, filled Pier Six Pavilion to hear Diana Ross, the former Supremes singer who has been a fixture in American pop music for 50 years.
The venue was filled with the excitement of teenage girls at a Taylor Swift show. I just so happened to be seated next to a thirtysomething woman who kept screaming "Ms. Ross" at the stage. Before the show even started.
Soon after an usher, maybe noticing the look I was giving this woman, upgraded my seat to a better section and the house lights went down.
As the band began to play 'I'm Coming Out,' the crowd erupted and Ross came onstage wearing a powder-blue sequined gown with a boa made of tulle—the first outfit in a show with four costume changes.
The audience sang most of the songs for Ross during the first portion of the show, which included her early Motown hits such as 'Stop In The Name Of Love', 'My World Is Empty Without You,' and 'Lovechild.' The moment she went into 'Touch Me In The Morning,' that is when I truly started to understand what I was seeing: In a sea of wheelchairs and government employees, I witnessed an older generation relive some of the greatest moments of their lives through those songs. With the start of each hit, I watched people flash back to high school sweethearts, late-night parties on Pennsylvania Avenue, and friends lost in the Vietnam War.
After Ross took a brief hiatus, during which her background singers performed solo, she came back in a silver metallic dress and went into a medley of her biggest dance records. 'Upside Down' from her 1980 album "Diana" got a rousing response, but it was her performance of 'Love Hangover' that had the entire house on its feet. For a moment Pier Six Pavillion was Studio 54 and everybody in attendance was invited.
Ross then went into selections from her 1972 Oscar-nominated film "Lady Sings The Blues" draped in a gold shimmering gown. A fan in the front row gifted her with a bouquet of gardenias, which she then placed in her hair to the delight of the audience.
As the show wound down, the diva sang the theme to her 1975 film "Mahogany," followed by her signature anthem, 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough.' With the crowd singing along, Ross sang the line "If you need me, call me" with particular endearment, bringing shouts for a encore from the enthusiastic audience as she left the stage.
Not one to disappoint, Diana returned in an all-black evening gown to performi Gloria Gaynor's 'I Will Survive' and hip-hop tastemaker DJ Khaled's 'All I Do Is Win.' When Ross exited the stage for the final time, there was a sense of community at Pier Six. You got the feeling of a generation seeing one of their icons for the final time on stage in Baltimore. And Diana Ross, at 71, still exudes the class and charm that has been her staple over the years, further cementing her iconic status.
Williams is a rapper, better known as DDm, who performs in Bond St. District.