Entering the Stockport Plaza tonight; I am transported back to an age in music which is iconic, full of famous songs and has a great feel good vibe. I'm of course talking about Motown and the 'Magic of Motown' crammed full of the labels best hits.
As the curtain went up, we were immediately transported to the party fun with hits 'Papa Was A Rolling Stone' and ‘Ain't No Mountain' which were performed with real excitement.
Performing to an almost full house at the Beautiful Grand Theatre Blackpool the stars of tonight’s’ show recalled performing there during the 60’s and I have no doubt that many of the audience tonight were there then. The auditorium was buzzing before the show even started and the minute the music began with ‘Hi Ho Silver Lining’ the place erupted with a mass of arm waving and singing along, leaving no doubt this crowd were here to party, no matter that they were mostly of the older generation! (You could tell as they chatted before the performance rather than fiddle around on Phones!)
For a one-off concert and to celebrate the launch of her CD, 'Twelve O'Clock Tales' recorded with The Halle Orchestra, Jazz singer extraordinaire, Clare Teal was invited to sing with this phenomenal world class orchestra last night at The Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, the home of The Halle.
Clare Teal was in truly fine form last night. I had never heard her live, and it wasn't her superb voice with astounding range and quality which impressed me the most; nor was it the fact that she chose to sing along with some standards a couple of songs she had composed herself; rather it was her bubbly and no-nonsense persona. She is a northern lass a makes no bones about it; and as she chats to the audience like friends, there are no heirs and graces about her at all. Her mildly comedic banter, her adlibs to the audience and the fact that she really doesn't take herself too seriously are all highly commendable, yet combined with her Yorkshire brogue are at odds with her sublime ballad singing. My immediate thought was that she was in many ways very similar to the late, great, Victoria Wood; and quite unbelievably, at the very end of the concert, Teal acknowledged her debt to Wood as being one of the people she was inspired by.
Tonight, I'm at the Manchester O2 Apollo among thousands of fans of all ages; from teenagers to pensioners, everyone's waiting full of excitement and promise, what kind of artists can demand such a varied audience - well it's one of the most famous British reggae/ska bands around, it's got to be UB40.
Performing tonight as part of their Labour of Love I & II tour in Manchester, the band were greeted with an amazing crowd and atmosphere all ready to dance the night away.
Wow what a show this is.
Phil Aldridge produced and presented the most talented musicians and vocalists I’ve seen in a while grace the Palace Theatre stage. Tonight the 13 piece orchestra was truly enchanting as they effortlessly played the iconic music that complimented the lyrics of the Carpenter songs. Richard Pardy was my stand out musician, as he played the tenor sax beautifully, with a talent that electrified the evening. I certainly was captivated and seduced by the deep sexy tones that only a saxophone can produce in the hands of a world class sax player like Richard. Brent Keefe on drums, Jon Bower Bass guitar, and Lorraine Kelly lead violinist all along side their fellow musicians held the audience captive by their stunning musical talents. Leaving the orchestra pit empty and seeing the orchestra on stage is always an indulgence for me, as often the stunning musicians are invisible to the audience as we rarely get the chance to glimpse these talented folk, who make musical theatre the enchanting arena that it is.
To culminate the festival hosted by The Halle Orchestra and The Bridgewater Hall, Echoes Of A Mountain Song, The Bridgewater Folkfest And Country Fayre was a festival which celebrated the countryside and in particular the local countryside, and how the landscape has moulded and influenced local folk music and composition.
The main event of today was a community folk opera performed by students at Chetham's School of Music [see separate review], but performing in the foyers of the Bridgewater Hall both before and after this were several folk singers and performing groups.
This was the world premiere of an hour-long opera written especially to commemorate the Mass Trespass on Kinder Scout in 1932 and was performed on the anniversary of that event, the 24th April.
For those that don't know, The Mass Trespass was a peaceful demonstration organised by nature lovers and ramblers from the cities, primarily Manchester and Sheffield, who were denied access to areas of local natural beauty and open spaces of nature away from the grime of industrial city life because the land was owned by gentry and the upper classes. They all walked en masse to the top of a local hill landmark known as Kinder Scout, which was then in private ownership along with the rest of the surrounding land. It was a very significant civil act of defiance inasmuch as this action led to the forming of The Pennine Way and other long distance footpaths and the official recognising of The Rambler's Association and their rights.
The Electric Light Orchestra are a band formed in 1970 and although the 70’s was a decade that featured in my early adult years I have to admit to not being a follower of this particular band, so I wasn’t sure whether I was going to enjoy a tribute to them as from memory I could only recall ‘Mr Blue Sky’ and ‘All Over the World.’
The Brand New Orchestra is a thrice-yearly showcase event at the RNCM, where the student composers are given the chance to have their work performed by their colleagues on the instrumental side. Given the huge number of talented musicians studying at the RNCM, the forces available to the composers are immense, and they make full use of them, in the generous space of the RNCM’s main hall.
Following the BBC Young Brass of the Year competition that was held at Manchester's Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), the city is treated to play host to one of its universities highly-acclaimed orchestra ensembles in this gem of a venue - much like a mini Bridgewater Hall - the Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall within the Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama.
The multi-award winning Manchester University Music Society (MUMS) Brass Band's concert of eight perfectly executed pieces, was presented by a group of talented and attractive young musicians - all of who were extremely well-presented and very professionally accomplished. I admire anyone anyway who is willing to pursue a discipline or at least try, but to succeed in playing in sync with a group is pure brilliance.
A musician friend of mine recently told me that after a gig he demands of himself to be physically and emotionally exhausted, as then he knows he couldn’t possibly have given anything more to the performance.
Ruby Turner pours so much of herself into every show that it’s impossible not to be moved by the intensity, velocity and emotional power of her music. The Epstein Theatre is a beautiful, relatively small venue, a little time capsule of the charm of epochs; and such as it is, Ruby is barely containable.