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.
On Thursday 21st April 2016 Queen Elizabeth II will have her 90th birthday. In celebration of this event York Musical Theatre Company presented Happy & Glorious as a tribute to the longest-reigning British monarch. This semi-staged ensemble production took a wide selection of songs from the musicals of the last ninety years and cleverly created a fun and varied show.
Arriving at Liverpool's St George's Hall, I was transported to Philadelphia in the 1970s as soul superstars, The Three Degrees took to the stage. Dressed in some of the most sparkly frocks I've ever seen, they looked every bit the part and sounded it too, with great voices and hitting notes, other groups can only dream of. The band has had many members over the years (15 to be precise) but has always been a trio, and the trio of talent currently comprises of Original members; Valerie Holiday since 1967, Helen Scott since 1976 and the newly joined Freddie Pool since 2011.
It’s impossible to review a show at St Georges Hall without mentioning the venue itself, especially the concert room which is where the performance took place. The architecture is absolutely stunning, and the grandeur of the room just hits you immediately. Almost every person who entered the room automatically did a scan of it, taking in the sheer beauty of the environment, in particular the ceiling décor and chandelier.
On to the main event, and the entrance of the musicians. They entered the stage one by one, beginning to play their instruments on arrival, until all of them were on stage and taking part in the opening number. It was a fantastic start to the show, and prepared you for the spectacle that was to follow for the evening.
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