Diana Ross lights up the grandstand at the MN State Fair

When the world went into lockdown at the height of the pandemic, Diana Ross decided to set a new record.

Yes, many musicians have done the exact same thing. But the 78-year-old icon pulled out all the stops. She hired a small army of producers and musicians – including Taylor Swifts go-to guy Jack Antonoff, music world’s Lana Del Reys and Lordes – as well as no not one, but two symphony orchestras to do what became “Thank You.”

It’s her first album of original material since 1999, so she went ahead and hit the road for a world tour to promote it. After spending the summer touring Europe, including Glastonbury and the Montreux Jazz Festival, Ross returned to the United States. She headlined the Minnesota State Fair stand on Saturday night after selling out two nights at the Hollywood Bowl.

Vocal group Naturally 7 opened, followed by a set from Ross’s daughter, Rhonda. I’m sure she’s a nice lady and all, but she sang the worst version of the “West Side Story” classic “Somewhere” I’ve ever heard and followed it up by murdering “Rolling in the Deep” from Adele.

Before the main attraction finally took the stage, a lengthy advertisement for the new record was shown on the big screens. Then the diva herself appeared, cooing her hit “I’m Coming Out.” And from there it went, starting with truncated versions of a series of Supremes classics, including “Stop! In the Name of Love”, “You Can’t Hurry Love” and “Love Child”.

During the latter, Ross left the stage for the first of four costume changes, each complete with a matching folding fan to keep her cool. The crowd of 8,180 loved every minute.

Ross has always been more of a superstar than, say, a true vocal powerhouse. But considering her age, Ross proved hugely entertaining with her occasionally raspy voice and cheerful demeanor. She handled upbeat songs better than ballads and, somewhat adorably, gently (but forcefully) warned the sound guy during “Lady Sings the Blues’ “Don’t Explain.”

While it would have been great to hear her sing her terrific new single “Turn Up the Sunshine” – a collab with Australian psychedelic pop band Tame Impala (!) – she did “If the World Just Danced” instead. a neo-disco track from the new album. She finished with a catchy cover of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” then did some more peddling of the new record and finished with the title track.

Much like 78-year-old Roger Waters did at Target Center in July, Ross turned out to be an ageless wonder who still has him after all these years. Hopefully we can see her again soon.

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