Pointer Sisters stick to their big hits

Grammy-winning trio the Pointer Sisters stuck to their biggest hits from the late '70s and early to mid '80s Friday in a show with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra at Ovens Auditorium.

The symphony opened with a 25-minute bird-themed set titled “A Fowl First Half,” which included playful pieces like the lively-enough-for-“Looney Tunes” “Turkey in the Straw” and “Chicken Reel.” During the latter, entertaining conductor Albert-George Schram led the orchestra with a rubber chicken.

When the Pointer Sisters took the stage around 9, oldest sister Ruth belted the first strains of 1979's “Happiness.” At ages 62 and 60 respectively, sisters Ruth and Anita looked and sounded incredible, along with Ruth's fiery 30-year-old daughter Issa. Issa replaced youngest sister June, who died of cancer in 2006.

The threesome bounded through “He's So Shy,” “Automatic” and “Slow Hand.” The only snag was during “Automatic,” when Ruth's voice dropped out as she sang the verses in her lower register.

The real test was how Issa Pointer, who has been with the group since 2004, would carry June's role. She must've grown up watching her aunt June – always the funkiest of the sisters – because Issa relished that role, taking lead vocals on “Dare Me” and the finale of “Jump (For My Love.)”

The audience remained seated until one enthusiastic crowd member got everyone on their feet for the showstopper “I'm So Excited.” That's where they stayed for the rest of the show, which ended surprisingly after only nine songs.

The show's length seemed the only complaint as fans filed to their cars. “They only played half their hits,” one woman said. That was true: The trio sang only its biggest hits and few from their first decade. It left the audience wanting more. As one woman moaned the lack of 1973's “Yes We Can Can,” she reveled at the group's youth: “In my next life I want to come back as a Pointer Sister.”