From the very first notes from the band it was plain to see that the audience at the Theatre Royal were out to party tonight, even before the appearance of Chris Hindle and Gareth Davey as Jake and Elwood Blues, the cheers went up. As they danced onto the stage in true Blues Brothers style to ‘Soul Man’ the interaction was immediate and everyone was singing and swaying along and for a first number, the applause was deafening. Many of the crowd had gone along dressed for the occasion sporting the dark Rayban glasses, black ties, white shirts and of course the black trilby hat and by the end of the evening I almost wished I had too! I don’t think I have ever smiled so much through an entire tribute as I have tonight, the energy and fun was infectious and I don’t think there was anyone not swept away by this show.
The backing band consisted of Ade Wilson- keyboards, Paul Boocock-drums, guitarists JP Levell and Paul Crouch, plus ‘the Horns’ as they were referred to (Jonny Paul-saxophone, Adrian Gibson - trombone and Tom Lanson- trumpet) and the ‘Sweet Soul Sisters’, Bridie May Miller and Laura Hebie who all gave fantastic performances tonight and brought the stage alive. All contributed in giving the audience a good time.
As tributes go I have no idea if they sounded word perfect with the original Blues Brothers (yes I know how popular the Blue Brothers are and although I know of them, I have never seen or watched a full movie of them!) but judging by the audience reaction they could do no wrong. Launching into ‘Rawhide’ I was taken aback by the wonderful deep bass vocals of Davey, in later songs he performed with a completely different range of vocals equally great.
Hindle too is a brilliant entertainer bringing the ‘Reverend Brown’ to the stage and the energy they put into each song and dance is amazing along with the comedy. The dance steps exhibited by our Chicago Blues Brothers were executed in energetic style and I was exhausted just watching them, how they managed to sing at the same time is unbelievable. Hindle is also the producer along with co-producer Paul Boocock (drummer) of the show and behind the design of the fabulous Chicago street scene stage setting. Is there no end to this mans talents!
After the classic ‘Show Me’ (a woman that’s got a good man) we were indeed shown a good woman that’s got a good voice at least, Bridie Miller, who gave a stunning performance with R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Later in the show Laura Hebie performed ‘Proud Mary’ showing the power of her voice and working the audience. Together they had the audience singing along to ‘Rescue Me.’
After the interval the audience could not remain in their seats any longer and were up on their feet from the start dancing, singing and enjoying every minute to hits such as ‘Come On Everybody’ ‘Midnight Hour’ and ‘Mustang Sally’ The encouragement given by Hindle and Davey for the audience to join in was totally unnecessary, this crowd were with them all the way, the house lights went up for ‘Shake your Tail Feathers’ and there were some hilarious sights to be seen from the rear of the theatre as people strutted their stuff. I am not one for standing up and dancing in a theatre, except maybe for the last song of an evening but tonight I wanted to be on that stage!
There were photos taken during the evening, not just by the occasional sneaky one of an audience member, but by Ade Wilson off keyboards, indulging in his hobby of photography and in a twist, capturing the audience performing ‘Flip Flop Fly’ which they often publish onto their website.
The Chicago Blues Brothers give a non-stop entertaining lively performance singing and dancing throughout the whole show to over 40 classic hits and you leave the theatre on a high, one of the best ‘parties’ I have been to! Get yourself along and join in the fun. Promising a new Jingle Blues show for Christmas this is one that ‘You Me Them and Everybody’ will be looking out for.
The present tour continues, for info on venues and tickets contact http://www.thebluesbrothers.co.uk/dates/
Reviewer: Lorna Weekes
Reviewed: 21st May 2016