Diana Ross at Merrill Auditorium on May 14.  Aimsel Ponti/Staff Writer

Diana Ross’ Tuesday night show at Merrill Auditorium was an immersive experience that enveloped her life and career with video elements, a visit from her daughter and a set of about 20 songs that spanned her career and showed off her persisting talent.

The Portland show was a stop on what Ross is calling her Beautiful Love Performances Legacy tour.

The evening included a short film and a huge video screen backdrop that constantly displayed either photos and videos of Ross through the years or a live feed of audience members singing and dancing.

Ross, whose honeyed, gorgeous vocals have mostly stayed with her at 80 years old, showed the audience why she earned the label of legend many years ago.

Transcending nostalgia while also paying homage to her storied career, Ross and her backing band turned in a polished set that had the almost-full house singing and up on its feet several times throughout the 90-plus minute show.

Before she hit that first note, there was a 10-minute video with interview clips and career highlights from the Detroit-born singer whose group The Supremes helped Motown become a hallmark record label.


Wearing a long silver gown and frilly white jacket, Ross’ smile was wide as she dispensed with the small talk and got right into the music.

With a pianist, guitarist, bassist, two drummers, four horn players and four backup singers, Ross owned the stage right from the start with her 1980 hit “I’m Coming Out.”

Without missing a beat, Ross segued right into a cover of Spiral Staircase’s “More Today Than Yesterday.”

From there, Merrill Auditorium’s pristine acoustics elevated Ross and her band through Supremes songs “Baby Love,” “Stop in the Name of Love,” You Can’t Hurry Love” and “Love Child.” Love was certainly in the air as the crowd swooned and clapped in appreciation.

Diana Ross in Portland on May 14, 2014. Photo by Tracy Burke

With her 1973 Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 single “Touch Me in the Morning,” Ross showed the audience that her vocal capabilities are still strong and were complemented, rather than carried by, her backup singers.

Midway through the show, Ross invited her daughter Rhonda Ross to the stage. The younger Ross, who has released two of her own albums, performed a few songs while her mother stepped aside to change into a flowing red dress.


One of Ross’ biggest post-Supremes hits was the 1980 disco song “Upside Down” to which she enthusiastically asked the audience to sing along. The crowd at Merrill obliged as Ross strutted around the stage, holding the entire room in her hand.

To introduce “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand),” Ross’ debut single as a solo artist in 1970, she asked the crowd to raise their hands in the air and sway along to the hopeful tune. Many participated, and hundreds of waving arms made for a poignant sight.

Other standout songs of the night were “Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To),” “Ease On Down The Road” (from “The Wiz”), “Why Do Fools Fall In Love” and especially “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” which elicited a standing ovation.

A few times during the show, especially toward the end, Ross took the time to sign a few autographs, shake a few hands and accept a few gifts from fans, including a painting of herself that clearly impressed her.

Ross kept the party going with a cover of Gloria Gaynor’s disco anthem “I Will Survive” then returned to the stage, in her third outfit of the night, to end the show with the title track from her 2021 album, “Thank You.”

Earlier in the show, Ross told the audience that, while she loves making albums, there’s something magical about being on stage. She more than proved that in Portland.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.