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Pop : Fifth Shows It Isn’t One-Dimensional

Nostalgia shows can often be dated, dull and embarrassing--particularly if the artists have no sense of humor about their oldies and have deteriorated physically and musically. But when the Fifth Dimension was reunited at the Greek Theatre on Saturday after a 15-year split, the pop-soul vocal quintet re-created the rich, soaring harmonies of its late-'60s heyday, and had the good sense to poke fun at itself and some of its oldies.

The show was straight out of Las Vegas--complete with orchestral backing, glittery costumes and cornball humor. By Vegas showroom standards, it was lively, nicely paced and full of variety.

The Fifth Dimension’s biggest hits-- “Stoned Soul Picnic,” “Up, Up and Away,” “Wedding Bell Blues"--are just pop fluff, and their signature song, “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In"--is a ‘60s relic that doesn’t wear well. But the group--Marilyn McCoo, Billy Davis Jr., Florence LaRue Gordon, Lamont McLemore and Ron Townson--wisely mixed the oldies with gospel songs and show tunes that provided diversity and showed that the Fifth isn’t one-dimensional.

Their best song--actually a McCoo solo--is the timeless, melancholy “One Less Bell to Answer,” about a woman grieving over a broken romance. Her dramatic rendition was the high point of the show, with her stirring selections from her new solo gospel album, “The Me Nobody Knows,” not far behind.

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