Isley Brothers Show off Greatness at Martin Luther Mathews Event at the Fox; Review; Performance at the Fox Theatre Honored Retiring Mathews-Dickey Co-Founder

By Johnson, Kevin | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), February 23, 2015 | Go to article overview

Isley Brothers Show off Greatness at Martin Luther Mathews Event at the Fox; Review; Performance at the Fox Theatre Honored Retiring Mathews-Dickey Co-Founder


Johnson, Kevin, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Martin Luther Mathews went out with a bang Saturday night at the Fox Theatre with a retirement and birthday party that drew a "who's who" crowd and culminated with a concert from the Isley Brothers.

Mathews, co-founder of the Mathews-Dickey Boys' and Girls' Club with Hubert "Dickey" Ballentine, just turned 90, which coincided with his retirement from the long-running center that has catered to over 2 million children.

The double celebration raised approximately $500,000.

The Isley Brothers featuring Ronald Isley and Ernie Isley, easily one of the longest-running acts still performing today (singer Ronald Isley still records albums as regularly as anyone), took the Fox Theatre crowd on a funky, rockin' stroll down memory lane with staples such as "Fight the Power," "Footsteps in the Dark" and "Who's That Lady," the latter sampled by rapper Kendrick Lamar in Lamar's Grammy-winning song "i," though it wasn't mentioned.

Backed by a full band, dancers and singers, the Isley Brothers no longer innovate as much as they remind us of their infinity- stretching greatness, from "Shout" to "Twist and Shout," "Choosey Lover" to "At Your Best (You Are Love)" and "Summer Breeze" to "Groove With You."

Ronald Isley dedicated two songs to Mathews, one early in the evening and one late. The first was "Between the Sheets," an awkward choice not properly explained. The song was heavily sampled by rapper Notorious B.I.G. on "Big Poppa," and the Isley Brothers in return sampled lyrics from the song in concert, meant to imply that Mathews was a "Big Poppa."

It was too much to think about. The latter dedication, more simply, was "For the Love of You."

Ronald Isley said he always likes to do something to honor Whitney Houston when he performs, but on this night honored Houston and Bobby Brown's daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown, who remains in a coma. To that, he started performing "Jesus Loves Me," but quickly handed it over to the excellent backing trio, the Johnson Sisters (formerly R&B group JS), with Kandy Isley, Ronald Isley's wife, delivering a knockout vocal.

Ernie Isley, as is customary, delivered searing guitar solos throughout the night, his signature style remaining unmistakable. …

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