I bet just hearing the name of this tribute band you are already singing the words to the Bee Gees classic in your head, no?.... 'It's just your jive talkin', you're telling me lies, yeah'..... and that's how the whole show goes when the group take to the stage with singing, clapping, swaying or dancing along from most of the audience tonight at the Charter Theatre, Preston.
Opening the show with 'Living Together' a track taken from the 1979 Spirits (Having Flown) album are Gary Simmons as Barry Gibb, brother Darren Simmons as Maurice Gibb and keeping it in the family Darren's son, (or Gary's nephew, whichever you prefer!) Jack Simmons as Robin Gibb. Together, fully supported by a four piece band comprising of lead guitarist Graeme Foy, on drums Miguel Andrews and a strings section with husband and wife team, Ruth Howell on violin and Chris Howell on cello, the trio wonderfully recreate the sounds of the Bee Gees.
Following on with the ballad 'Massachusetts' Jack takes the lead vocals and gives an amazing rendition to the song that was to become the Bee Gee's first number one single in Australia and the UK and ultimately one of the best selling singles of all time. He captures the voice and mannerisms of Robin perfectly, cupping his right ear as Robin often did.
After each song the stage is plunged into darkness and then slowly lit up again which I have to admit I found irritating. For the first half I was seated close to the front of the theatre and the lighting was a bit hit and miss with spotlights and many times the stage looked dim and uninspiring. Whether the lighting changed or because I moved to the rear of the theatre and the effects were seen from a different angle, the second half lighting seemed much better, although the plunging into darkness continued. (Leave the twinkly star back cloth lit up at least!) Unlike many tribute bands there are no visuals screened at the back and in all honesty they are not needed with this particular show as Gary connects with the audience with his banter and anecdotes.
'Run To Me' reveals real harmonies between the three as does 'I've Gotta Get a Message To You' which is a powerful and superbly performed song with lead vocals from both Jack and Gary in different verses, one of my favourites of the night. With memories of a song 'To Love Somebody', which Jive Talkin' had the opportunity to perform with the Bee Gee's, we are then treated to several more well known songs and possibly a lesser known one 'Spirits (Having Flown)'.
After the interval the band returned with a lively ' You Should Be Dancing' and indeed many took to the aisles and dance area in front of the stage but following up with 'Nights On Broadway' a much slower song had them returning to their seats, only to get up dancing again to the next song 'Staying Alive'. Maurice was pictured wearing many times in leather jackets and hat as worn by Darren tonight and I know the Bee Gee's were not exactly style icons but I had thought there would be a costume change during the interval and half expected to see white suits and medallions during the second half, but this was sadly not to be.
'Too Much Heaven' was simply stunning, a fabulous performance of this great ballad highlighting the vocal ranges that Gary achieves with amazing harmonies from all three. Everyone associates the song Grease from the 1978 film of the same name to Frankie Valli but the song was actually written by Barry Gibb and follows next. Keeping to the film theme, 'Stayin' Alive' from Saturday Night Fever keeps the audience in full dance mode. There is a real party atmosphere by now in the theatre.
The pace slows down again with 'How Deep is Your Love' and another song the Bee Gees wrote but recorded by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, 'Islands in The Stream' which brought cheers from the audience. There followed then what Jive Talkin' referred to as an 'acoustic medley' and thrown in to cover several songs in one section, as obviously, the Bee Gees recorded so many songs, it would be impossible to perform all of them during the evening. The song choices are of lesser known songs and the flow with the audience seems to diminish. It goes on too long and it would have been preferable to hear just a couple more classic songs. However as soon as more popular songs are sung the singing along and dancing follows again. The show continues to entertain and bring a real feel of the Bee Gees to the theatre although at times I did feel that some of the infamous falsetto notes were a struggle to achieve, particularly in the first half but by now I am completely loving the whole experience of this tribute.
Bringing the show to an end with their tribute name song and receiving rapturous applause is 'Jive Talkin' which brought the house down but this audience is not fooled.....there has to be more! No Bee Gee's tribute would be complete without a performance of iconic song 'Tragedy' and tonight is no exception and a perfect end to an amazing tribute. I can only say, Jive Talkin' ....in the words of another Bee Gees classic hit 'You Win Again'!
Reviewer: Lorna Weekes
Reviewed: 12th November 2016
North West End Rating: ★★★