Human Nature: Motown from Down Under

EntertainmentMusicMichael JacksonAustraliaPBS (tv network)Smokey Robinson

Everybody loves the music of Motown, and that includes a quartet from Australia that has become adept at driving people's memories back to Detroit.

Human Nature, which formed in 1989 and opened for Michael Jackson in Europe, has been singing its version of Motown for six years now, including the past three in Las Vegas. The group will begin a six-show run Tuesday, Nov. 27, at Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood.

The 90-minute show consists of 26 Motown favorites, including "Ooo Baby Baby" by the Miracles and "Reach Out, I'll Be There" by the Four Tops. But singer Andrew Tierney insists Human Nature is not a tribute act.

"We're a vocal group that wants to keep the passion and integrity of the music," he says. "But when you see us do a Supremes song, it'll be our version. It's not like we're going to put on dresses."

Tierney says Motown remains popular because it's upbeat and easy to follow.

"It's simple, universal music that makes people feel good," he says. "Because of the incredible songwriting, it's an evergreen type of music that even kids hearing it for the first time say they connect to. Even people who might have lost their savings in the casino can come in and feel good."

The group formed in 1989 as the Four Trax, and by 1996 had Top 10 hits in Australia with its original music, including a triple-platinum album and enough recognition to sing the Australian national anthem to open the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Along the way, Tierney's brother and bandmate, Mike, suggested changing the group's name to Human Nature, which had nothing to do with the Michael Jackson song.

"Singing is a very natural thing for us, and we thought the name was catchy," Tierney says.

Human Nature's fifth album in 2005 consisted of Motown covers, and it soared to No. 1. Smokey Robinson began to mentor the group, and two more Motown-themed albums followed.

A two-month engagement at the Tropicana Casino in Atlantic City followed in 2008, and then the group booked a three-year gig at the Imperial Palace Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. It also taped a PBS special.

Announcement of another long-term Las Vegas commitment is coming this week, Tierney says. If the group ever stops enjoying Motown, it can go back to recording its own songs, the singer adds.

Human Nature will perform 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27, through Friday, Nov. 30, and 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1. Tickets cost $34-$54. Call 800-745-3000 or go to Ticketmaster.com.

NSortal@SouthFlorida.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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EntertainmentMusicMichael JacksonAustraliaPBS (tv network)Smokey Robinson
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