Ribby Hall Holiday Village Blackpool, November 2nd
Producer Erica Crompton
Reviewer Mark Ritchie
Meet and greet abounded with the, terrifying T-Rex Dinosaur on the outside and the extraordinary and glamorous Lady Stilt-walkers and the breaking dancing superheroes on the inside.
Compere Jonnie Hawkins (lead singer of Funky Monkey) was on hand with the chat and the intro’s as singing star and UK Cabaret subscriber Lorraine Crosby and her two dancers presented their swinging sixties show, known as Ready Steady Girlz. Lots to enjoy her in costuming and music, as well as the celebrated voice of Ms Crosby.
Rock ‘N Roll All-Stars came next and this live four piece, sporting a great Jerry Lee Lewis style piano player, made all the right moves and sounds. In short, a superior attraction.
Amazing Faith is the first tribute to Paloma Faith I have seen as yet and I wonder how much demand and subsequent work will materialise for this particular tribute subject. In my view, the act looked and sounded under-rehearsed and rather raw and why do so many performers feel the necessity to glug from water-bottles?
Mixtape is the name of a four piece, semi-live party band whose bass -heavy sound was augmented by a rather overpowering pre-programmed track. There is work aplenty here however for Mixtape, if pitched correctly fee-wise.
Kurtis Ray White performs a genre tribute to all things soul and this is surely one of the stand-out performers in his field. A belting selection of soul classics were performed and sung seamlessly and in segue style.
I have seen and enjoyed party band Popwork before. On this impressive showing, these four bonny lads delivered their set with the aid of a huge screen displaying many of the lyrics from their set-list. Popwork must have done considerable business on the night.
A lot of paying punters and family crowds love the manufactured boy/girl bands and the subsequent appeal for tributes has always been exploited. Little Minx perform their tribute to Little Mix, along with thumping backing vocal heavy tracks and very pretty they are too!
Boomin’ is the kind of live band I could never tire of hearing. This live piece simply pick tunes, apparently out of the air and gloriously join the musical segments together, creating a joyful and infectious party sound.
During the interval we were entertained by our dancing superheroes and soon Compere Tony James was introducing a vintage jazz band called Black Sheikhs. Without a horned gramophone in sight, this five piece were soon delivering today’s music in roaring twenties fashion. Abba’s Dancing Queen was performed in a tango tempo, turning a seventies disco anthem into a ripping musical yarn. Enough said!
Soul Diva Phinesta Taylor performed her homage to Ms Franklin in Frankly Aretha. Having been a fan for Ms Taylor for many a year, I am not surprised to see this remarkable singer branching out into an all-out tribute artiste. If anyone can do justice to the legend that is Aretha Franklin, it is Ms Taylor, but why the fade-out backing tracks?
Take three girls and stand them behind a variety of instruments and add a trendy-looking male singer and double-deck scratcher and you have one of the many acts, up and down the land, who are calling themselves Uptown Funk. Long on backing tracks and short on pretty much else, in my view this was the least bookable act of the entire evening.
One of the true, clever ideas for a tribute I have seen in ages came next. The Madhouse Brothers gave a rip-roaring and presumably tongue- in-cheek genre tribute to all things Ska and 2-Tone. Trawling the room armed with radio microphones and liberating bottles of Veuve Cliquot champagne from behind the bar, and pouring a glass for this reviewer, certainly assured the brothers of a great review.
I loved The Viper Kings, featuring as they do Paul Malloy from The Zutons and Ian Skelly from The Coral. This is clearly a covers and hobby/earner for a band whose musicians are so tight they could write a musicianship book.
Country Chix is the collective name of a hand-clapping, knee-slapping, foot-tapping bevvy of country beauties. Songs about red-neck women and other assorted country themes, were largely superfluous, as the Daisy Duke-style denim shorts adorning the derrieres of all three of these country gals proved, if proof is needed, that sex still sells.
Yet another candidate for the accolade of best band of the evening was Firekind, a live commercial rock band, who do exactly what it says on the tin, but perhaps better than most. I tried to spot a weakness…there wasn’t one in sight!
Rocky Horror- A Night to Remember is a five-handed company who re-create many of the high-spots in Richard O’Brien’s big idea. A few technical problems on the night could easily have marred the overall effect, but professionalism shone through.
Compere Tony James, who had linked the whole evening so amiably, was on hand to close the show out as lead singer and frontman of the brilliant four-piece band Funky Monkey. Having seen this high quality show-band before, I knew what to expect. Funky Monkey proved to be more than capable of capping off a triumphant evening for Team Big Foot, at an event as well attended as any I have seen lately. For those who were counting, the count of this year’s showcase chestnut song Uptown Funk was seven. But never mind…this is trade showcase-land!