Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
In a July 6, 2011 photo released by HN ENT US LLC, the Australian pop quartet Human Nature performs in Las Vegas. The group's music really got a hold of Smokey Robinson. Motown Records' signature vocalist loved Human Nature's take on the legendary label's standards so much that he signed on as the group's official presenter and are now heading out for their first U.S. tour, which kicks off Saturday, March 24, 2012 in Detroit. (AP Photo/HN ENT US LLC, Denise Truscello)
Smokey Robinson-backed Aussie pop group to tour U.S.
First Published Mar 22 2012 08:17 am • Last Updated Mar 22 2012 08:17 am

Detroit • An Australian pop quartet’s music really got a hold of Smokey Robinson.

Motown Records’ signature vocalist loved Human Nature’s take on the legendary label’s standards so much that he signed on as the group’s official presenter and helped facilitate a lengthy run for it at the Imperial Palace hotel in Las Vegas.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Now, the guys are heading out for their first U.S. tour, which kicks off Saturday in — where else — Detroit.

Human Nature (brothers Andrew and Mike Tierney and fellow high school classmates Phil Burton and Toby Allen) have released nine albums, five of which went to No. 1 in their native country.

They’ve opened for Celine Dion and Michael Jackson in Europe and Australia and performed the national anthem at the Summer Olympic Games in their home city of Sydney in 2000.

But it was their 2005 Motown tribute, "Reach Out," that attracted the attention of Robinson.

"They came to the studio one night in Los Angeles ... and sang for me a cappella with no music — just them singing — and blew me away, man. Just awesome," the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "I am so enamored with them."

And, thanks in part to Robinson’s backing, the group nailed down an exclusive booking at the Imperial Palace, where they have played five and six nights a week to sold-out crowds for the past two-and-a-half years.

The group is moving beyond Nevada with the 10-city tour, which will take them to Washington, New York, Chicago and Boston through May 6. Add to that a PBS special — featuring Robinson — that began airing in December and a CD of Motown covers that was released earlier this month, and Human Nature is well on its way to expanding its influence beyond its roots in Oceania.

Not only does the group have Robinson to thank for its stateside successes, but also the music of Motown, which enjoyed its heyday nearly a half-century ago but has been embraced by generations of listeners drawn to its timelessness.

story continues below
story continues below

So, what could these guys possibly bring to the music that hasn’t been done better by Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and company?

"They have put their own touch on (the songs)," Robinson said. "They sing the Motown music, but they do it like Human Nature does it."

For their part, Human Nature simply loves singing the songs.

"Our roots lie in American soul," Andrew Tierney said. "It’s the ultimate market for what we love."

It may seem strange on the surface that this particular group is helping to carry on the Motown legacy. But considering the label’s reputation for busting through color barriers, it does make sense.

"Why should people listen to four white Australians sing these songs when they’re ubiquitous on radio and TV?" Andrew Tierney said. "It just shows that this music is written for everybody and that it has reached to every corner of the globe, including Australia. And it’s still influencing people, just as it touched us."

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.