Archive for May, 2018


I’ll admit straight off, I’m not a Take That fan. Okay, I don’t dislike them. They seem nice guys and the music isn’t offensive. However, they wouldn’t be on my playlist and I could just about name five songs.

The Band – Birmingham Hippodrome 7 May 2018

The Band focuses on a group of 16-year-old girls who steal away in the night to see the famous, but unnamed band in the show. A series of soul-searching moments ends with them vowing to never lose touch. Of course, things never work out that way and an incident I won’t reveal a spoiler of, causes them to go their separate ways. Only 25 years later do they reunite, coinciding with the boybands reunion in Prague.

Now, both Queen and Abba have sounds which transformed brilliantly to the stage, therefore, would the biggest boyband of the 90s do likewise? Only partly, in my opinion.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the show. Tim Firth’s script is well-written and funny. Add to that, all the characters were brought to life in brilliant fashion by a superb cast.

And then the band began to sing, which is where the show falls flat. The lads in the band were chosen from TV talent show, Let it Shine and cloned from every generic boyband of the last quarter of a century. Decent enough singers, but nothing special and they were given too much exposure which took attention from the main characters in the show. They needed to be further in the background and I found myself switching off every time they took centre stage. The Band weren’t the stars, more of a Greek Chorus and should have been used so. If you want to see a boyband perform, go see a boyband. I watch an awful lot of musical theatre and unfortunately, many songs didn’t transform well to stage. In fact, the only ones which did wow me were those sung by the women (in both young and older incarnations).

The Band wasn’t about the pop band, rather the band of friendship between our main characters. Favourite of these for me was the introverted Zoe (Played by Jayne McKenna {grown up} and Lauren Jacobs {younger}) who came to life once when out of the comfort zone. I can relate to that. I also had a soft spot for Every Dave, a man portrayed superbly by Andy Williams who turned up in many situations with no pretence at all to be a different person.

In addition to Zoe and Every Dave, Rachel was played by Rachel Lumberg and Faye Christall. Claire – Alison Fitzjohn and Sarah Kate Howarth. Heather – Claudia Bradley and Katy Clayton. Debbie – Rachelle Diedricks. And finally, Jeff – Martin Miller.

Top numbers for me were: Rule the World, Shine, Greatest Day and Relight my Fire. But by far the best was the poignant Back for Good. Beautiful from start to finish.

The Band on the night were: A J Bently, Nick Carsberg, Yazdan Qafouri, Sario Solomon and Harry Brown. The show was directed by Kim Gavin and Jack Ryder.

At the end, we had a rousing finale in which most of the audience rose to join in, including me. And why not. It’s a great feat to perform and the cast deserved their moment.

The Band – Birmingham Hippodrome 7 May 2018

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

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You know a band has stood the test of time when they have 20th anniversary tours. This happened with The Manic Street Preachers in 2014 and 2016 with The Holy Bible and Everything Must Go, respectively. However, the Manics are not ones to rely on past glory and April saw the release of their 13th studio album, Resistance is Futile.Manic Street Preachers – Birmingham Arena 27 April 2018

There may not be singles chart successes these days, but albums continue to do nicely with Resistance is Futile reaching number 2. However, this still seemed to be a sore point for James Dean Bradfield who spoke tongue-in-cheek to the crowd: “Five number two albums now. Which of you are buying The Greatest Showman?”

Not needing to prove themselves in charts, though, with a career showing no signs of waning, the band continue wowing large audiences while fickle chart followers move onto the latest short-term fad.

And wow a large audience the Manics did.

Manic Street Preachers – Birmingham Arena 27 April 2018 (C) Antony N Britt 2018

Full of energy, and launching straight into new number, International Blue (a song ready-made for the live circuit), the scene was set: You Stole the Sun from My Heart, Your Love Alone, If You Tolerate This … the hits no longer fit on a double CD. However, as previously mentioned, the Manic Street Preachers are not ones to rest on their laurels with the tried and tested. First outings for Distant Colours, Dylan & Caitlin, People Give In and the brilliant Hold Me Like a Heaven were welcomed with arms waving. And not only debut songs. Rare outings for 4 Ever Delayed, Let Roebson Sing and There by the Grace of God were complimented by a first time live of the 1996 B-side, Horses Under Starlight. Then we had the solo acoustic interlude from James with Faster and From Despair to Where.

Also, no Manic Street Preachers gig would be complete without mention of Richie Edwards. If by some chance you’re reading and don’t know the story, google it. Even the term, gone but not forgotten, does not apply. There is a vacant space on stage with one song always dedicated to the genius that is, Mr Richard James Edwards. This time, Motorcycle Emptiness, and even on the huge screen we see the man cavorting on a backing video. Very much part of things to this day.

The Manics don’t do encores, and nobody cares. Once you hear the opening of A Design for Life we know “This is the end.” A fantastic show from one of the best bands of the last three decades.

I like to think I have good taste in music and lucky my favourite bands seem to keep going. Perhaps I do have an ear for a good-un – ones the public don’t want to give up on. I guess it makes a point. For those hoping the Manic Street Preachers would go away, resistance is futile. Long may they continue.

Manic Street Preachers – Birmingham Arena 27 April 2018

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

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