JACKSON LIVE IN CONCERT Starring WHO’S BAD (Live Review)

Lakewood, NJ - September 9, 2017

Wednesday 14th March 2018 – Ipswich Regent – £28.50

Official SiteTour Dates


 

TRANSATLANTIC TRIBUTE

Founded in 2003 and touring since the following year, hard-working American Michael Jackson tribute troupe Who’s Bad rocked the Ipswich Regent theatre in Suffolk last night as part of their ongoing UK tour. It’s a shame that the very same venue only hosted another tribute to the King of Pop in the form of Navi (commonly acclaimed the world’s number one tribute owing to his working relationship with MJ) a few short months ago, as otherwise the take up for this gig would no doubt have been far nearer to being sold-out. That said, the audience was healthy and up for a good time – and Who’s Bad more than delivered.

… Keep Scuttling!

ALIEN ANT FARM (Live Review)

AAF Live Review

Saturday 10th February 2018 – 7pm – Norwich Waterfront – £20.00

Official Site and Tour Dates


 

YOU’VE BEEN HIT BY, YOU’VE BEEN STRUCK BY…

… A wave of nostalgia. I was lucky enough to see a spirited live show from early noughties nu-metal fun rockers Alien Ant Farm on their recent three-week tour of the UK, with support from Local H and SOiL. It’d be Criminal of you not to check out my full review of this Smooth evening over on the 60 Minutes With website.

Click HERE for a direct link to my thoughts on AAF’s sold out Norwich show from earlier this month. According to their official site, the band’s tour moves to Germany as of tonight.

With huge thanks to Dave and Tina at 60MW for the opportunity, and Judith at BJFPR for the press passes.

BEN: A Tribute to Michael Jackson (Live Review)

The Apex, Bury St Edmunds –21st September 2017 – Tickets £21.00

Official WebsiteTwitter


 

DANCING MACHINES

As my nearest and dearest will attest, I am very much a staunchly-protective Michael Jackson fan – as evidenced by the fact that I was nearly reduced to tears of outrage while watching Cirque Du Soleil’s Immortal World Tour when it hit the o2 back in 2011 (but that’s another story). Since losing my idol in 2009, it’s hard for even official Estate-licenced tributes to cut the mustard, the man really was a one off. “Stay away then!” you may yell, but that misses the point of supporting and celebrating the man, the music and the performances I have loved and cherished since I was 7 years old.

… Keep Scuttling!

The Jacksons at Newmarket Nights (Live Review)

Jacksons Newmarket

Newmarket Racecourse, Suffolk – 30th June 2017 – Tickets from £35.00

Official WebsiteTour Dates


 

DANCING MACHINES

The weather forecast for last night in Newmarket was dire. Torrential rain dire. Not the kind of night to pop out for a pint of milk, much less to stand in the middle of a grassy field for two hours. But then last night was no ordinary night, because the Jacksons were in town!

… Keep Scuttling!

G4 Live in Concert (Live Review)

G4 Apex Live

Sunday 5th March 2017 – The Apex, Bury St. Edmunds – 7:30pm

www.G4official.com – Ticketmaster hotline: 0333 321 9999


 

G-UNITED

As runners up of the very first series of The X-Factor back in 2004 (won by Steve Brookstein, fact fans), classical crossover four piece G4 pioneered the “popera” movement long before Blake, Rhydian, Susan Boyle, Richard & Adam, Jonathan & Charlotte and Collabro (who I have also seen live, on their Act Two Tour last March) brought Les Mis to mainstream attention.

… Keep Scuttling!

Thriller Live (Live Review)

Norwich Theatre Royal – 13th-18th January 2017 – £8-£32.50

Directed and choreographed by: Gary Lloyd

Executive director: Adrian Grant

Official Show websiteTour Tickets


BOOGIE WONDERLAND

Recently recognised as the 17th longest running production in West End history, in the eight years it has been thrilling audiences I have seen Gary Lloyd’s spectacular tribute to the King of Pop on three separate occasions. Each time it has been on tour from its established base at London’s Lyric Theatre, and each time it has improved significantly, growing more confident, more ebullient, more honed.

… Keep Scuttling!

Release the Bats with JOHN CARPENTER (Live Review)

img_1985Troxy, London – 31st October 2016 – Doors: 6:30pm

Official WebsiteTour Dates


 

LOST THEMES FOUND ON STAGE

In the wake of original tour promoters ATP folding, the pre-show ticketing fiasco and the shit-storm which followed the apparent overselling (and under-conscious organisation of) the “upgraded” Manchester date two nights earlier, it would be fair to say there was a fair bit of concern and apprehension amongst the flock of John Carpenter fans snaking around the Tower Hamlets venue on Monday night. Even the stewards seems somewhat confused by exactly who required a re-printed ticket from the box office! Thankfully, everyone was only too happy to help.

… Keep Scuttling!

Michael Jackson – Auckland 1996 (Album Review)

Label: Zip City

Release date: 10th June 2016


 

HIS UNMASTERED VOICE

Testament to my unhealthily compulsive buy-first-regret-later obsession with anything Michael Jackson is this blatantly unauthorised (yet widely available, even making onto the “HMV Recommends” display in my local branch!) TV rip of the New Zealand Broadcast from 11th November 1996 of the King of Pop’s Ericsson Arena, Auckland stop on his mammoth HIStory World Tour.

… Keep Scuttling!

Mad About the Musicals (Live Review)

Theatre Royal, Bury St. Edmunds – Thursday 16th June – 7:30pm

Official Website10th Anniversary Tour Tickets


 

JUKEBOX MUSICAL

Last night I was supposed to be sat in a sea of 80,000 Coldplay fans singing along to “Fix You” at Wembley Stadium, but the fates conspired to alter my plans, so instead I happily accepted an invitation to the oldest Regency Theatre in the county (fact) to watch an M.A. Promotions production called Mad About the Musicals, which is celebrating its 10th Anniversary by bringing former Pop Idol runner-up Gareth Gates along for a whistle-stop country-wide sing-song.

Fronted by jubilant show creator, producer and director Michael Courtney (who reminded me of Michael Ball, although another member of my group threw Alan Titchmarsh’s name into lookie-likie contention), MAtM’s concept is a simple one: a celebratory selection box of the very best songs from the musicals of stage and screen, intercut with onstage interplay between the five main singers and banter with the audience.

Having not seen any of the previous nine years’ productions, I can only imagine that a need to spruce things up year-on-year has lead to such a broad and diverse set-list this time around. Whilst I have no qualms with being introduced to some of the more obscure gems of the genre, the sheer number of songs – from Funny Girl, Dreamgirls and Jekyll & Hyde to name but three – which I had not encountered before has lead me to re-evaluate what I thought was my rather knowledgeable acquaintance with the genre. As such, I was beholden to Michael Courtney’s introductions when we reached half-time with only numbers from Miss Saigon and a rousing We Will Rock You medley striking a chord with me.

While the second half – opening with an attention-grabbing selection from The Phantom of the Opera and closing with a five song run-through from everyone’s favourite Les Misérables – provided a more comfortably familiar anthology, what stood out most was how underutilised star name Gareth Gates was. He was the first man on stage at curtains up, but after some jovial repartee with compère Michael (including a self-deprecating jibe about Gareth’s strugglesome stutter) he receded backstage and was by far the least seen of the singers through the night.

Front and centre on the posters to get bums on seats, it was also true that new-to-the-company Gareth – whose primary strength is in pop songs, lest we forget – had the softest/weakest voice of the group, with Michael and the terrific trio of leading ladies each astounding with some assured and belting vocal acrobatics, particularly during duets and complex layered harmonies. Any seriousness during some of the more tender ballads (such as Jesus Christ Superstar) did sometimes feel at odds with the over-rehearsed pantomime-esque (mis-)behaviour between songs, but this was a variety show and that they delivered.

Michael made multiple complementary references to the beauty of the diminutive venue, helping to personalise the banter, but despite the Theatre Royal’s revered history, it must be said that size is not its strength. Despite being on row F, I felt close enough to count the hairs in Gareth’s designer stubble! Indeed, when the colourful lighting rig swathed the audience in light during the more upbeat numbers, my heart went out to the live band and singers who were forced to look out at a solid-but-patchy audience, with the front row in particular looking depressingly threadbare. Wembley Stadium, this was not. Nevertheless, the company behind Mad About the Musicals never let their smiles slip and the show went on with theatrically game gusto.

CR@B Verdict: 3 stars


Photo and poster courtesy of the official Mad About the Musicals Facebook page – I did not take or design these, nor infer ownership. No copyright infringement intended.

The Sons of Pitches (Live Review)

The Junction, Cambridge – Friday 10th June 2016 – 7pm

Official TwitterTour Dates


 

ACA-FELLA VOCAL GROUP

Having quit their day jobs and hit the recording studio since they won Gareth Malone’s The Naked Choir on BBC 2 last November, a capella six piece Sons of Pitches have now hit the road for a 26 date headlining theatre tour.

Last night’s stop at beatboxer Midé’s home town of Cambridge was their first and only gig where the audience were standing – not that this change of atmosphere affected the banterful British band, as they were on exceptional form throughout their two act 90minute instrument-less set at The Junction’s J1. Besides, an unabating standing ovation was no less than they deserved!

Keyboardist and singer Jessica Rhodes – who is normally backed by a five-piece band but had to make do with just acoustic guitarist Luke – made for an appropriately complimentary warm up act, perfectly combining laidback tracks with a fierce and fiery vocal during a punchy 20minute set.

Audience reaction amplified remarkably when the Joes (Belham, Novelli, Hinds), Midé, Josh and Jamie hit the stage just 5 minutes later, instantly impressing with a perfect fusion of audience interaction, confident banter and enviable talent.

Opening with an in-song introduction from each vocal maestro, the laugh-rate was always entertainingly high. At one point an audience member (of questionable willingness!) was decked out in fancy dress Mexican garb and made to dance with maracas, waiting for the microphone to be thrust his way to shout “Tequila!”

All the songs which saw them victorious in the TV competition (Wuthering Heights, MMMBop in 10 genres, Move, True Love Ways and their Grand Final-winning medley) were well smattered throughout the evening, making for an audience-pleasing diversity of tempos, years and genres (everything from a lengthy boyband medley to dubstep, via Outcast!), while interaction with the up-for-it crowd made for arguably the show’s highlights.

Rearranging well known songs to suit and astound in a capella is a hard enough task when given rehearsal and editing time, but for Sons of Pitches to TWICE create impromptu songs before our eyes last night was a real treat, bringing back memories of Showstopper! The Improvised Musical. With the crowd consulted for Cambridge-relevant topics (“Universities!”, “Cycling!”, “Casual sex!” – I wish I was joking) and alternative genres which were written down and added to a pint glass, we witnessed the first ever Christmas song about punting(!). Later in the evening the last line of people’s text messages were polled to create a nursery rhyme/musical fusion called “The Swingball is in the Triangular Shed.”

Such ingenuity was commendable and the group’s pleasure at what they created was palpable, further fuelling their enduring energy, which carried through to a climatic preview of their very own songs, written for their upcoming second album. With so many complex layers to each track it’s difficult to instantly fall in love on a first listen, but the arrangements and delivery were unquestionable stunning – a word which perfectly sums up last night. I will definitely be seeking out tickets for their follow-up tour this November – whether standing on not.

CR@B Verdict: 5 stars