Tag Archives: Robbie Durham

REVIEW: Nashville Live – Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow

Capitalising on the current insatiable appetite for all things Country and aiming to “transport you right into the heart of downtown Nashville, celebrating the atmosphere and energy of an evening in the home of country music”, Nashville Live at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall features a cast of seasoned West End performers recreating the great and the good of the country music scene.

Framed as an evening from the stage of the Ryman Auditorium, where the world-famous venue broadcasts its radio show to the nation, complete with red on-air sign, silence/applause banner and peppered with vintage radio ads enacted by the cast, it’s an uneven evening that doesn’t know quite what it is.

To it’s credit the set list manages to cover an impressively comprehensive number of Country music eras and genres: Blue Moon of Kentucky sets the tone, quite literally, with heavy reverb on the microphones and slightly mushy sound mixing to start, it takes a while to get in to its stride. Robbie Durham elevates the proceedings with a duo of Hank Williams tunes, Hey Good Lookin’ and Jambalaya. However, there are technical glitches with Helena Gullen’s accompanying, silent fiddle.

Gullen tackles the incomparable Patsy Cline in Walking After Midnight and is competent, if a little lacklustre, again there are plenty of effects on the mic to support her voice, she fairs better in the classic, I Fall to Pieces. Chris Grahamson delivers Willie Nelson’s, On The Road Again and Always on my Mind and to the production’s credit, returns the anthem Crazy to its writer Nelson to deliver. Grahamson has a strong, clear voice and does justice to these well-loved tunes.

There are some unexpected detours courtesy of a few Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard songs and a bluegrass interlude, but it’s soon back to the big-hitters with Tammy Wynette’s Stand By Your Man, Dolly Parton’s Jolene and I Will Always Love You performed by Lisa Wright. Wright has an excellent voice, but lacks rapport with the audience. Durham gets the audience singing along to Kenny Rogers’ foot stomper,The Gambler.

Robbie Durham, fresh from a London run and UK tour of Million Dollar Quartet, again plays Johnny Cash and showcases his astonishing vocal range and tone. Folsom Prison Blues and I Walk the Line are particular highlights.

Grahamson returns with Garth Brooks’ Friends in Low Places and If Tomorrow Never Comes, again, Grahamson’s rich, clear voice is a stand out among the cast.

While there’s quality throughout the cast, the staging is incongruous. While the artists are introduced as “Dolly Parton” and “Patsy Cline” the costumes for the most part are modern, and there’s no attempt to look like the artists featured save for a few shirt changes amongst the men. That coupled with the ‘radio show’ staging and the vintage adverts in between. It doesn’t work. Either full-on tribute in wigs and costume or a band of musicians just playing covers of these songs, both of these would have worked, this mash-up just confuses. While the auditorium is full, the audience are singing along, the atmosphere is ‘flat’ and there’s a LOT of chat from the audience throughout most of the ballads and the songs that are less familiar.

A great set list and some flawless vocals but the show lacks the passion and energy from the performers that marks a truly entertaining night out.

Touring Scotland – more info at: http://www.mapletreeentertainment.com/currently-touring/Nashville+Live/16/tourdates/

REVIEW: Million Dollar Quartet – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

million dollar quartet review glasgow king's theatre

This review was written for and published by The Reviews Hub here.

Writers: Colin Escott & Floyd Mutrux

Director: Ian Talbot

Documenting the now-legendary, one-and-only coming together of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins, at the Sun Record Studios in Memphis on December 4, 1956, Million Dollar Quartet is a scintillating, celebratory tale from the dawn of rock ‘n’ roll.

Under the avuncular, or in some eyes, Svengali-like influence of record label owner Sam Phillips, dubbed “the father of rock ‘n’ roll”, the four musicians converge in the studio. Despite the kinship and camaraderie tensions abound: Elvis is already a star; Perkins is in want of his next big hit and can barely contain his anger at Presley’s appropriation of Blue Suede Shoes; Cash is wrestling with dissatisfaction at not being able to record the songs he wants and his own deep-seated Christian values and the devilish Lewis is teetering on the cusp of global stardom. Phillips is keen to re-sign Cash, Cash is fearful of telling Phillips he’s already jumped ship to rival record company Columbia and Phillips is barely keeping his head above water, thinking that “we’ve taken this guitar thing as far as it can go” and having had to “sell” Elvis to RCA to keep his label afloat.

What makes this such an irresistible gem (apart from the knock-out soundtrack) is its cast, who are universally excellent. A stalwart of musical theatre, Jason Donovan (Sam Phillips) is actually at his best in pure acting roles, Phillips fits him like a glove and his measured delivery as the narrator of this tale, is the perfect counterpoint to the frenetic energy of these musical giants. But oh boy, the Quartet themselves, Matthew Wycliffe is a gifted guitar player and his era-evocative voice captures the smouldering Perkins to a tee, Ross William Wild has a lot to live up to as Presley and shines in the slower numbers, in particular Peace in the Valley and Robbie Durham manages to captures Cash’s idiosyncratic bass-baritone voice beautifully – I Walk the Line and Sixteen Tons are a treat. But it is Million Dollar Quartet veteran Martin Kaye who truly impresses, having played on the US tour and Las Vegas production for five years, Kaye has the lion’s share of the best lines and his piano playing is truly astounding.

If any criticism is to be made it’s the paper-thin characterisation of Phillips but the utterly glorious music more than makes up for any faults. The high-octane raw energy and sheer joy with which the Quartet delivers each number is salve for the soul.

Unlike many, Phillip’s can truly claim “I made them boys” and oh what boys! Million Dollar Quartet is glorious, pure unadulterated, no-frills, high-talent entertainment at its best.

Runs until Saturday 19 November 2016 | Image: Darren Bell