Tag Archives: live

REVIEW: Someone Like You: The Adele Songbook – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

It’s over a decade since Adele burst onto the music scene with her debut album 19. From there the then teenage sensation has matured into a world-dominating megastar. With Adele on a seemingly infinite sabbatical, Katie Markham’s Someone Like You: The Adele Songbook is both a fitting tribute to the star and an excellent substitute.

Former X Factor finalist Markham was chosen to appear in the TV special Adele Live at the BBC presented by Graham Norton, an event that was to change her life. Not only did she get to sing with her idol, that appearance inspired Markham’s decision to create the show Someone Like You, a show that has now toured Britain. A wise decision, as the superstar’s music transcends both musical genres and the generations as evidenced by the large and diverse audience in the Theatre Royal this evening.

Markham manages to capture Adele’s vocal and physical nuances, but she is clearly a gifted singer in her own right and accompanied by a talented four-piece live band and two backing singers, she more than delivers the goods. From Hometown Glory through: Chasing Pavements; Make You Feel My Love; Set Fire To The Rain; Someone Like You; Rumour Has It, Rolling In The Deep, Skyfall to Hello, every hit and some lesser known album tracks are here as well as some tributes to Adele’s musical heroes. There’s even an astonishingly good version of Cheryl Cole’s Promise This, originally performed for Radio One’s Live Lounge, proving that a class act like Adele can make a silk purse out of any musical pig’s ear. Markham’s talented backing vocalists also get their chance in the spotlight with a knock-out version of Natural Woman.

It takes a brave performer indeed to take on arguably the world’s best female vocalist, thankfully Markham is a class act like her musical idol, and Someone Like You is a highly entertaining two hour musical treat.

Katie returns to Scotland next month with shows on:

11th March – Eden Court, Inverness
12th March – Music Hall, Aberdeen
13th March – Webster Theatre, Arbroath 

REVIEW: The Wandering Hearts – Broadcast, Glasgow

Having spent weeks at the top of the Country Artist Album chart, the talent and quality of London-based ‘country, folk-pop’ group The Wandering Hearts won’t be confined to intimate venues like Glasgow’s Broadcast for long.

Thirty minutes after uploading two demos to SoundCloud, the group, then called The Paper Hearts, caught the attention of Decca Records, who invited them to audition one month later, and signed them on the spot. A small name change, a turn supporting the Brothers Osbourne, an appearance at the C2C Festival and here we are on their first headline tour.

Having a band with four talented vocalists results in the most ear-pleasing, to-die-for harmonies and while each is a knock-out singer, it’s A.J. Deans’ outstanding voice that lingers in the memory. The interchanging of the vocal leads means that the interest never wanes throughout the set. Comparisons are inevitable with Fleetwood Mac but it is evident that this band have poured their hearts and souls into the creation of these original sounding songs, there isn’t a weak link in the entire one hour set. Standout among the fabulous tunes are the upbeat Devil and the contemplative If I Fall.

The quality of the sound, singing and song-writing is bigger than this (albeit) sold-out show. This is stadium filling stuff with a wide appeal. The current appetite in the UK for musical Americana remains undiminished and The Wandering Hearts will undoubtedly be at the vanguard of the British movement.

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub.

 

REVIEW: Irit – Òran Mór, Glasgow

Irit Dekel’s life story is almost as colourful as her music. The Tel Aviv native has been an Israeli Army sniper, actress, TV host, film-maker and comedian and is in Glasgow with her three-piece band to showcase her debut solo album Happy.

Her sun-soaked sound transports, instead of sub-zero Scotland, it’s the sound of Parisian pavements, middle eastern rhythms, Astrid Gilberto, Buena Vista Social Club, and a dash of Piaf.

There’s a bite to the lyrics behind the catchy melodies, and Dekel describes some of the life experiences that have influenced the songs, one particularly affecting is based on her military service and the paralysing of her bunk mate in a freak gun accident. That said, the over-riding feeling is one of joy. The rhythms infectious. There’s also an original take on R.E.M.’s Shiny Happy People.

Irit Dekel is offering up something original with this east-west hybrid of influences. An antidote to the grey world outside the doors. Highly recommended.

 

REVIEW: Philippa Hanna – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

As the opening act for audience favourites Collabro you will always have a hard job of winning over the band’s loyal following, even if you are currently the No.1 selling UK Country Chart act. On paper, Philipa Hanna, seems like an unusual musical fit for the musical theatre/crossover classical singing group.

Hanna is warmly received by the audience and as with any Glasgow crowd, is accompanied with gusto on the many occasions for audience participation, both vocally and percussively.

Hanna is a gifted singer with a crystal clear country voice and her output is very firmly placed in the current pop-country world (she is also a proponent of Contemporary Christian pop). The problem is that while entirely pleasant to the ear, the music is a tad similar-sounding. Another, more concerning aspect of the performance is the highly detailed introductions to the songs. Each appears to have been inspired by the knocks in life that Hanna has experienced and she explains each at length, along with her belief in the support network around her and her faith in God. While, undoubtedly the intention is to inspire – indeed the title of her current album is Come Back Fighting and another song I Am Amazing, unfortunately the audience interaction, coupled with the lengthy interlude to promote the sale of her current album and book, pressed all this reviewers cynicism buttons (indeed, the merchandise plugging was a device used throughout the evening with all acts on the bill trying to sell something). I am a great believer in letting the music do the talking, if it, and you, are good enough, then they alone will win any audience over.

While undoubtedly a talented singer and a competent songwriter, Hanna has huge potential in her chosen genre(s), there are more suitable tours for an artist of this genre. While this will garner her huge exposure on Collabro’s almost sell-out tour, it’s an odd choice and an uncomfortable fit with the acts to come.

REVIEW: Idina Menzel – Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

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Tony Award-winning Broadway superstar Idina Menzel is in town once again with her individual blend of musical theatre classics, pop standards and self-penned songs from her new album.

As ever it’s an eclectic mix: The Beatles’ Dear Prudence melding into Do You Want to Build a Snowman?, a clutch of the songs from the shows that made her Broadway name – Seasons of Love and No Day But Today from Rent, Defying Gravity and For Good from Wicked, some very introspective offerings about her divorce, her son and finding new love from the album idina and, of course, the ubiquitous Let It Go from Frozen – which she performed with a clutch of tiny fans at her side, oh, and a Led Zeppelin tune.

Menzel is best described as ‘quirky’ and this unevenly paced and toned production is a reflection of that. At times utterly distant: there’s little dialogue in the first 20 minutes or so save the occasional ‘thank you’, then in turn confessional: disclosures about her divorce from actor Taye Diggs, her relationship with her son and her recent engagement, then utterly accessible: chatting and singing with fans. The result, though keeping the audience on its toes, is a little unsettling at times – there’s no build of excitement and in the moments when the audience has the chance to get truly engaged it crashes to earth with another sensitive ballad. As a huge fan, and someone who has seen her in concert and in stage roles many times, it all seemed a little too self-involved, even for a performer as kooky as Menzel. Engaging – yes, entertaining – yes, a bit all over the place – a definite yes.

Menzel is a unique talent, and despite a few wavering notes, still in fine form. Not her best, her previous UK tours had more impact, but still packing a punch and still with the power to move.

REVIEW: Michael Ball & Alfie Boe – Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow

The master of musical theatre Michael Ball and Britain’s best-loved tenor Alfie Boe join forces on a UK tour to promote their recently released album Together.

The whole evening rattles along amiably and the pair has an easy charm that transmits well to the audience. The programme is rich and varied: from an Elvis medley, a James Bond segment to a selection from Les Mis, a show that both have a history with – Ball as the first Marius and Boe as a critically lauded Jean Valjean on both Broadway and the West End. However, surprisingly, it is a Rat Pack segment that blends these two contrasting voices to best effect.

The pair have ample opportunity to showcase their considerable vocal skills; Boe has the power and drive and Ball the mellow honeyed tones. For Boe, the highlight is undoubtedly his rendition of The Who’s Love Rain on Me, a powerhouse performance that has the audience on its feet at its conclusion, for Ball it’s his personal anthem Love Changes Everything.

This is a rare opportunity to see two singing giants together on one stage and the result is a hugely entertaining evening – a rare treat, and a class act from start to end.

REVIEW: Bernadette Peters – The Playhouse, Edinburgh

Considered the finest interpreter of the works of Stephen Sondheim, Broadway superstar Bernadette Peters visited Edinburgh this week on the final night of her three date tour of the U.K.

Ms Peters, despite her tiny stature, is a Titan of the stage, but her modest demeanour and genuine warmth belies this, there are no diva antics here, the moment she steps on stage to a standing ovation, she seems truly appreciative of her audience, and boy are they appreciative of her. That’s not to say she’s lacking in sass – far from it – she cheekily sashays through some glorious, and in some cases forgotten, musical theatre classics. From Gypsy’s Let Me Entertain You, through a series of Sondheim’s greatest works, some sassy show-stoppers such as Fever (delivered reclining on the grand piano) and C’mon a My House which she performed in her TV show Mozart in the Jungle, to little heard songs from Carousel and State Fair, this is a masterclass in acting through song.

Despite the sheer size of this, the largest theatre in the UK, it seems as though you’re in an intimate cabaret club, so adept is Peters at drawing her audience in. There’s pure emotion and total commitment to each and every note and from the front row it gives you glorious goosebumps.

As you leave theatre you know what you have just witnessed is something truly special and will rarely be repeated. Just magical.

Image: Contributed

REVIEW: Stages- An Evening with Josh Groban – Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow

Josh Groban’s latest concert based on his seventh studio album Stages, can be summed up in two short words – pure class.

As he steps into the spotlight and the first notes of Pure Imagination ring out around the sold-out 3000-seater auditorium, you know that Groban is a world apart from his contemporaries.

As the applause die from the blistering opening, the curtain pulls back to reveal an orchestra on an atmospherically dressed set replete with chandeliers, candelabra, draped curtains and a red carpet. The feel is one of both opulence and intimacy. Indeed, despite the grand scale of this auditorium, the whole evening has an air of intimacy, Groban shares (often self-deprecating) tales of his journey from childhood musical theatre nerd to global singing superstar – not that Groban acts like the superstar he is, a gifted raconteur, his genuine charm and graciousness have the crowd in the palm of his hand from the start.

While the stories lend a personal touch to the evening it is his technically brilliant, resonant baritone we are here to hear, and the song choices don’t disappoint: What I Did For Love from A Chorus Line is a great big barnstorming triumph that allows us to experience the effortless power Groban has, as does the Act One closer Anthem from Chess. Ballads, Bring Him Home and You’ll Never Walk Alone are moving in their sincerity and in Finishing the Hat and Children Will Listen, we hear just how perfect Groban’s voice is for the works of Stephen Sondheim.

Special guest, West End leading lady Louise Dearman duets with great success on Phantom of the Opera’s All I Ask of You and Carousel’s If I Loved You, as well as delivering a roof-raising Defying Gravity, the perfect choice from the only woman in musical theatre to have played the two leading roles in Wicked.

There are few who sound better at these songs than Groban, that he is as charismatic and warm as his singing voice is a delightful bonus. As he prepares for his first Broadway role, one fears that it may be a while before we get to see him again, we can only hope he doesn’t leave it too long.

 

REVIEW: Michael Ball – If Everyone Was Listening Tour, Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow

Michael Ball returns to Glasgow’s Clyde Auditorium to showcase his latest album If Everyone Was Listening, a selection of songs with personal resonance for Ball.

There’s a heavy modern country vibe about the songs from the new album which as unlikely as it may seem, sit well with Ball’s voice, the evening is also interspersed with pop hits, Avici’s “Wake Me Up” and Katy Perry’s “Roar” among them, and of course, a selection of West End standards including Les Mis’ “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” the song that brought Ball to the nation’s attention.

Whilst Ball more than does justice to the pop standards, the true power and resonance of his impressive voice only truly gets a chance to shine in the musical theatre numbers.

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What makes every concert from Ball a winner, is his engaging personality. He shares personal memories about his career, the downs as well as the ups, gives heart-felt reasons for his song choices and revels in the self-awareness that he’s phenomenally uncool but he’s happy with that – and so are his audience.

The crowd are on their feet from the opening notes and throughout the evening, culminating in a mass storm of the front of the stage for the concert finale. Ball could easily claim to have the most avid fandom around and it’s hard to resist the love in the air, the sheer joy with which the songs are delivered and received, is infectious.

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Ball allows his backing vocalists their moment in the spotlight too and West End performers Sandra Marvin and Adrian Hansel’s duet on “A Whole New World” is particularly impressive, as are the seven piece band who provide rich accompaniment to the whole evening.

The evening ends on a high with Ball’s career changing hit “Love Changes Everything” and the audience leave even higher. This is a master of his craft at the top of his game, a better quality performance you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere.

REVIEW: Aled Jones – Motherwell Concert Hall

Despite releasing more albums than Madonna and Queen (30 to be precise), and three decades since first appearing on the nation’s conscience, Aled Jones is still working to shake his image as the rosy cheeked choir boy who went walking in the air.

Now 44, Jones has recently been in the public eye from his two year stint on the ITV breakfast time sofa with Lorraine Kelly and as one of the principal presenters of the BBC’s flagship religious show Songs of Praise.

He is now back on tour doing what what he loves the most – singing from the heart. This concert, Songs of Hope and Inspiration delivers exactly what it says on the tin, a selection of pop-standards, religious, Scottish and Welsh folk ballads and traditional tunes all with a “hymn-like quality” to soothe the soul or inspire.

Despite the tiny audience in this cavernous concert hall, Jones gives his all during the programme, interspersing the diverse song choices with amusing anecdotes and (due to the intimate numbers) lots of one to one banter with members of the audience.

Thirty years on Jones is still in fine voice and manages to breathe new life and some interesting arrangements into old favourites as well as ably tackling the more modern folk-inspired numbers. His voice remains rich and melodious throughout.

This is an evening of musicianship of the highest standards and quality, it’s just a pity that the locals didn’t turn out in greater numbers to see it.