Live Reviews

Bow Wow Wow – A Review

Brudenell Social Club - April 24th, 2012

After seeing The Selecter in March at what is fast becoming the venue of choice for a great many bands, a good amount of them on the comeback, revival, never actually been away trail, The Brudenell Social Club delivered the goods yet again, this time with Bow Wow Wow.

An instrumental opening got us underway, before Annabella Lwin, adorned in a foreign legion cap, jacket, frilly pants and tasselled leather boots, entered the stage to the opening of Giant Sized Baby Thing, from Girl Bites Dog. Looking much younger than her 45 years and still with the energy of that 14 year old we first saw back in the early 1980’s, Lwin gave the Brudenell crowd what they’d come for – a power packed set to take home and treasure.

W.O.R.K (N.O. Nah No No My Daddy Don’t followed, complete with those African rhythms the band is known for, then Louis Quatorze, both again from Girl Bites Dog. The melodic Baby Oh No! continues this great set, followed by Sexy Eiffel Tower, Mile High Club, another well received classic, then Sun, See and Piracy and Uomo Sex Al Apache.

Elimination Dancing and Go Wild In The Country are next, the latter being one of the Bow Wow Wow’s biggest hits, before the controversial c30, C60, C90, Go, which was supposed to have promoted home taping way back in the 1980’s.

I Want Candy got the biggest cheer of the night, with Sinner! Sinner! Sinner! and I Want My Baby On Mars, bringing this incredibly entertaining show to a close, with a promise that the band would do a signing session shortly after their performance.

It was nice to see Annabella Lwin pay tribute to Malcolm Mclaren, who created and, at first, produced Bow Wow Wow. Heaven knows what they would have been like without his influence.

Written and Photographed by Kevin Petch

Gilbert O'Sullivan – A Review

The Grand Opera House, York, is fast becoming Gilbert O'Sullivan's third home as the great man takes to this stage for the third time during the last two years. Backed by an incredible band of musicians, including 2 backing singers and a string quartet, the show also included old video footage, cartoons and photographs from the last 4 decades, showing on the screen above.

Bringing with him an amazing catalogue of self-penned classic songs including Nothing Rhymed, Clair, complete with the original video, No Matter How I Try, the awesome We Will, Ooh-Wakka-Doo-Wakka-Day, Where Would We Be (Without Tea) from his latest album Gilbertville, proving the lad's still got it, and the incredible Houdini Said, which sees Gilbert at his most creative.

Mr Moody's Garden brought two young ladies out of the audience, complete with G t-shirts, to do the backing vocals for this one, which was great fun. We were also treated to Can't Think Straight, Gilbert's duet with the late Peggy Lee, as he sang his vocal live to the music video, made at the time of recording. Absolutely Fabulous.

Gilbert then gave us a reggae version of Why, Oh Why, Oh Why and a George Formby tribute in the shape of The Window Cleaner's Mate, before returning to the likes of Happiness Is Me And You, Here's Why, another new one from Gilbertville, You Are You, What's In A Kiss and Alone Again (Naturally).

For his encore, Gilbert returned with Matrimony and Get Down, which saw him laughing in the face of his 65 years, as he jumped up on the grand piano. I wish I was that sprightly, being 14 years his junior.

This was a wonderful evening, filled with great songs, fantastic musicianship, nostalgia and memories of where we were when these records were being played on the radio, which just kept flooding back.

Please come back again very soon, Mr O'Sullivan, you're always more than welcome.

Written by Kevin Petch

Spamalot - A Review

Of all the Monty Python team members, Eric Idle was always the most musical. So it was always on the cards that if one of them was going to come up with a comedy musical, it would be Eric.

Spamalot, is a stroke of genius. Taking the main storyline (or loving ripped off) from the 1974 motion picture Monty Python And The Holy Grail, with a few Python sketches thrown in for good measure, we are taken back to the days of King Arthur (Steven Pacey) and his knights of the round table, following them in their quest to find the holy grail.

Along the way, they encounter the French, the knights who say ni, and the Lady of the Lake, played brilliantly here by Bonnie Langford, with such exquisite comic timing too. She has such a wonderful voice and makes this part her own.

Throughout the show, a whole host of amazing songs come our way, including I Am Not Dead Yet, Come With Me, Knights Of The Round Table, The Song That Goes Like This, the hilarious Brave Sir Robin, Whatever Happened To My Part (Diva’s Lament) and, not forgetting, Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, which was originally featured in Monty Python’s Life of Brian, sung here by Todd Carty in the role of Patsy, the one with the coconut shells.

This is by far one of the funniest nights I’ve ever had at the theatre. Eric Idle and John DuPrez have got it all spot on and even tailor the script to what’s going on in the world today and in the locality of the venue. I couldn’t fault any part of it and, likewise, the very appreciative Grand Opera House, York, audience, who may not have all been Python fans at the beginning, but were certainly by the end.

If Spamalot comes back again to a theatre near me, I’ll certainly be there … and will be bringing my family and friends with me. I can’t recommend it enough.

Written by Kevin Petch

The Selecter - A Review

Brudenell Social Club - 23rd March, 2012

Having never seen The Selecter back in the day, and believe me I'm old enough, it was great to see such a legendary band in the flesh, featuring Pauline Black, the queen of Ska and Gaps Hendrickson, continuing their reunion after reuniting in 2010 to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of their classic album, Too Much Pressure.

What struck me from the outset was just how much they're all enjoying themselves, which rubbed off immediately onto the heaving Brudennel crowd, surprisingly made up of everyone from 18 to people in their fifties (cough, cough) and maybe some in their early sixties, but looking well on it.

Playing a fantasically long set, the likes of which included James Bond, Three Minute Hero, Missing Words and, not forgetting, On My Radio, the band always sounded fresh and tight, just like it was the late seventies, early eighties all over again, only better.

A three song encore followed, Carry Go Bring Home, Too Much Pressure and My Collie (Not a Dog), ending what can only be described, by the guy behind me, as a 'belter' of an evening.

Bad Transmission, a stage filling ska band/social experiment from Ulverston, were in support and gave a great account of themselves. Their high energy set included Can't Take It With You, All Take No Give and one, as the lead singer put it, which doesn't really have a name, so let's just do it.

Great stuff!!

Written by Kevin Petch

Aladdin - A Review

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a trip to the Pantomime and as the season gets into full swing, you couldn’t do any better than visiting The Grand Opera House, York, for their production of Aladdin.

Coronation Street’s Steven Arnold, who played the part of Ashley Peacock, I say Ashley Peacock (sorry), for 15 years before being killed off in that tram crash, takes on the lead role of Aladdin. But it’s Aiden J Harvey, the Lancashire born comedian and impersonator, who is the real star of this show . Playing Wishee Washee to perfection, the traditional jokes and audience participation, mixed in with some cracking impressions and adlibs, make for a very enjoyable evening.

Phil Randall is wonderful as Widow Twankey and lights up the stage with his colourful costumes, the audience reacting to each one as they become more and more bizarre. Dan Styles makes for a great pantomime villain too as Abanazar, and the audience were still booing him at the curtain call, which is always a good sign.

A special mention must go to Daniella Gibb as Princess Yasmin. Her voice is amazing and she must be on her way to becoming a huge star. Lucy Lavelle also deserves a mention for her excellent, madcap portrayal of the Genie of the Ring.

Aladdin had every ingredient necessary tonight and is well worth the visit. It made my Christmas and I’m sure it’ll set you up for the festivities ahead.

Aladdin runs until January 1st, 2012. Oh yes it does!

Written by Kevin Petch

Madama Butterfly - A Review

Puccini's Madama Butterfly, with international Korean & Japanese sopranos, paid a visit to the Grand Opera House, York, on October 15th, 2011, introducing the internationally acclaimed Ukrainian Opera of Kharkiv to these shores for the very first time.

Set in 1904 in Nagasaki, Japan, Madama Butterfly tells the heart-breaking story of a beautiful young Japanese girl, performed by Elena Dee, the Korean soprano, who falls in love with Pinkerton, an American naval lieutenant, performed by Andriy Perfilovwith. They soon marry but Pinkerton has to resume his naval duties shortly after, which is where their problems start.

Elena Dee and Andriy Perfilovwith had great on stage chemistry throughout, and even though Elena's character was only supposed to be 15 years old, she did bring a certain vulnerability to the role. The wonderful chorus also deserve a mention too.

This stunning production, complete with an authentic Japanese house and spectacular costumes, including an antique wedding kimono, is a feast for the eyes. Musically, the highlights for me included Coro a bocca chiusa (Humming Chorus) and Un Bel di (One Beautiful Day), the World’s most exquisite aria.

An unforgettable night at the Opera.

Written by Kevin Petch

Opera in the Park 2011 - A Review

Temple Newsam, Leeds, July 30th

It was all change at Opera in the Park this year. The first noticeable thing being the absence of Jon Hammond, who, for many years, had been there to welcome the huge crowd, get them all warmed up, host the evening in his own inimitable way, even if sometimes he couldn't quite pronounce the conductor's name, and then be there to help facilitate a safe and calm exit. Professionalism at its best.

For 2011 the microphone has passed to Aled Jones, the now 40 year old singer, who first shot to fame in 1982 with his version of Walking in the Air from the animated short film, The Snowman. Since then, he has recorded 28 albums and is regularly seen on tv in Cash In The Attic and Escape to the Country.

Conductor Martin André, the Leeds Festival Chorus and the Orchestra of Opera North got the evening off to a rousing start with Carmina Burana: O Fortuna by Orff, which is always a thrill, before Orla Boylan (soprano), Heather Shipp (mezzo soprano), Gwyn Hughes Jones (tenor) and David Kempster (baritone) took to the stage to perform compositions by Verdi, Saint-Saëns, Tchaikovsky, Puccini, Prokofiev and Glinka. Highlight of the night for your humble reviewer just had to be Silent Worship (Did you not hear my Lady) by Handel, which was impeccably performed by Aled Jones.

The evening also included songs from the shows, most notably Hushabye Mountain from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Sherman), Losing my Mind from Follies (Sondheim) and Somewhere from West Side Story (Bernstein).

As an encore - what else could it possibly be but Nessun Dorma - Gwyn Hughes Jones was accompanied, for the first time, by a short but breath taking display of fireworks.

The atmosphere wasn't as great as in previous years and there were times when the evening didn't really flow all that well, which is most probably due to Jon Hammond not being there and the turnout, which was estimated to be around the 7,000 mark. Aled Jones did a fine job, but was being asked to be both presenter and performer, even having to introduce himself on two occasions, which was quite comical. Mr Hammond's presence however, even in a co-presenter capacity, would have helped a thousand-fold.

Written by Kevin Petch

Legally Blonde The Musical on Tour - Review

The Grand Opera House, York, was certainly in the pink on opening night of Legally Blonde The Musical on Tour.

Elle Woods (Faye Brookes) gets well and truly dumped by Warner Huntington III (Neil Toon), her career minded boyfriend, just prior to him leaving for Harvard University Law Campus. So what is a girl to do when faced with such a situation? Well, she follows him, gaining entry to the university in a very unorthodox way. As in all the best stories, though, Elle has to battle many situations along the way, especially from the devious Professor Callahan (Dave Willetts) and the villainous Vivienne Kensington (Gemma Baird), who puts many obstacles in her way. But will she win back the love of her life?

Faye Brookes sparkles all the way through this very colourful production and is supported by a strong cast that also includes Iwan Lewis as fellow student Emmett Forrest, whom Elle takes under her wing as far as dress sense goes, and Liz McClarnon, once one third of the girl band Atomic Kitten, who has found her feet yet again, this time in musical theatre as Paulette Buonufonté, the hairdresser, who steals every scene, especially with her comic timing. A special mention should also go to Lewis Griffiths for his hilarious performance as Kyle, the UPS delivery man.

If you're looking for something to brighten up your day, week, month or year ... look no further. Legally Blonde The Musical has it all! Great songs, amazing choreography, fabulous costumes, inventively designed sets, especially the courtroom that literally 'turns' into a bathroom/toilet. Watch out for what the Stenographer (Katie-Marie Hicks) is using in the courtroom to bathroom scene. It's straight out of a René Magritte painting.

Legally Blonde The Musical at the Grand Opera House, York, runs until August 20th, 2011.

Written by Kevin Petch

Box Office: 0844 871 3024