Club Baize, Beighton near Sheffield
March 15th 2016
Producer Paul Beardow
Reviewer Mark Ritchie
This event provided an opportunity for bookers to view a huge selection of tribute acts and bands in one of the venues owned and operated by agency principal Barry Peller. The son of the late and great Johnnie Peller, Peller Jnr is aided by some very special people, in particular Peller artistes agent and show producer Paul Beardow. Now also a published author, Mr Beardow is indeed a man of many talents. Other Peller stalwarts Paul Wood and Sarah Butcher played their part too, during a very enjoyable evening.
There are a huge number of Jake and Elwood acts out there, but surely the market- leader by the proverbial country mile is Ultimate Blues Brothers. Perhaps what sets this act apart from the veritable stampede of competitors is the genuine ability to ad-lib and the assured feel of genuine entertainers going about their business. One half of the duo turned out to be the Compere of this event Jay Lavelle, who was quick to move on and introduce I Am Whitney. This lady is without question a superb vocalist, who gives a more then passable impression of the vocal timbre of the late, lamented. Miss Houston. A segue of song segments proved to be the mode of delivery for I Am Whitney and there will be oodles of business I imagine.
A solo male genre tribute to 80’s music came next. Marketed as 80’s Magic, this young man opened with the George Michael hit Faith. I thought this performer could have offered a little more in terms of authentic 80’s fashion. The vocal range wasn’t all that impressive and this seems a rather lightweight performance.
Three very smart suited young men came next, to perform their tribute to Take That. These Days is the name of the act in question and the overall impression was one of an extremely polished and thoughtfully prepared tribute. Particularly impressive was the overall vocal quality, which more than matched the choreography. In short, These Days are a top-drawer tribute.
Sheeran-The Tribute is quite a label to place around the neck of what appeared to be a new tribute artiste. The oddly affecting Ed Sheeran song, A-Team was his opener and although the voice isn’t in the category of spookily accurate, it was certainly close enough. Mr Peller and his team would not be representing tributes there is no market for and surely there will be certain venues who will stampede to book a tribute like this.
Three guys known collectively as Atlantic All Stars came next and this was the familiar soul and motown covers line-up, which ignites many a party night. These guys know how to entertain and their all too obvious stage experience shines through, as did the well sung harmonies.
David Austen is a stylish singer, who entered resplendent in a crushed velvet jacket and bow-tie. Mr Austen appears to be steeped in the creed of musical theatre and I would imagine that his cabaret work is often interspersed with spells involved in theatre drama and stage musicals. This versatile tenor will also presumably be busy as a wedding singer and his appeal is unquestionable.
Katy Saxon appeared next, giving us her tribute to Taylor Swift, which presented me with a small reviewing problem, as I am forced to admit that the music of Taylor Swift has largely passed me by. All can say with any degree of certainly is that I loved the stage wear and this lady can sing expressively. As was the case with the Ed Sheeran tribute earlier, I would envisage that the canny Peller team have already established that there is demand for this particular tribute subject, so all will be set fair for sure.
The celebrated live tribute band Showmaddymaddy came next and soon delivered the goods with a rip-roaring set. This six handed line-up reminds us what 70’s music was all about and I am delighted that these lads popularity seems to remain undiminished, particularly as I would imagine they are possibly competing for work with the real thing, which is frankly bizarre.
I have to admit I have seen some frankly appallingly cringe-worthy performers taking a crack at an Elton John tribute in the past. Implausible wigs, mimed keyboards and vocals that sounded nowhere near the real thing. All the more of a delight then to witness Jimmy Love live on stage. One of the stars of Blackpool’s celebrated Legends show, I just loved Mr Love, as did the rest of this trade audience. A white piano and some eye-catching banners, emblazoned with ‘Jimmy Love is Elton’ look impressive. Mr Love is definitely not Elton John, but he runs the 21st century Ivor Novello musical figure pretty damn close.
After the interval it was time to reacquaint ourselves with the artiste who had appeared earlier in the guise of Whitney Houston. Now appearing as Tina Turner, this artiste is known as, I Am Tina. In my view this is the best of this artistes two chosen tributes. Given that the Whitney is pretty good, this is praise indeed!
Singer Dean Gee appeared next, with an entertaining segment from his Legends of Swing show. This fine looking gentleman has the look of an entertainment industry professional, who could probably turn his hand to a number of projects. The genre tribute has emerged, I would venture to suggest, because a client is very liable to describe the type of show they want, in equal measure to those actually naming an individual tribute subject.
There has to be at least one Elvis on every show and Elvis Presley by Elvis Legacy came next. I have seen and enjoyed this artiste before and my previous favourable impressions were underlined here, with another impressive showcase outing.
Katy Saxon had appeared earlier in the guise of Taylor Swift. Now in the second half of the showcase, she re-appeared rather more convincingly, in my view, as Katy Perry. Attention to costuming detail was again a feature of this performance and there is sure to be business for this lady.
Singer Tristan Drew performed his Olly Murs – Thinking of Me show next. Mr Drew is sharp as a tack and smart as smart can be. A lovely vocal performance too from an artiste who I am widely informed is the current ‘Olly’ market-leading tribute.
It is a well-known fact that Showmaddymaddy, who appeared earlier, also double as a tribute to Madness. The Badness tour bus was parked up outside and the lads were soon into their stride, with House of Fun and the Bad Manners hit Lip up Fatty. Surely these six guys can’t be home much with two separate tribute shows, featuring truly live music and the accent very much on sheer professionalism.
Following a live band with a solo is never ideal, but the task has to fall to someone and Barlow-Live came next. After a huge fanfare type introduction, a young man who certainly looked like Gary Barlow strode on stage. A monotone Mancunian speaking voice greeted the audience and the singing voice turned out to be equally Barlowesque. In short, this was a highly saleable solo tribute artiste.
Michael Buble, by Buble the Show came next. In my view this was an unconvincing tribute performance, in all departments. Time to simply skip on to the next act on the bill.
Presenting his solo tribute to Sting was a tribute artiste who presents a show called- The Police Force. A succession of old Police hits were sung by a bass player who played over top-quality backing tracks. Clearly a winner of an act for those who don’t have the budget for a full band, but I hear this guy is also available with a full band too, which can’t be bad.
Closing the show out this time around was a Freddie Mercury& Queen tribute act called Stereo Queen. The act consisted of a Freddie Mercury lookalike and a guitar-wielding Brian May figure. Budget-conscious bookers might find this is a suitable alternative to a solo tribute, when maybe the client doesn’t have the money for a big band. I detected a bit of a squeaky larynx here, but hopefully on his best form, this Freddie can do much better.
So, that was that for another year and predictably this was a triumphant evening for all at Peller Artistes. Presumably an extremely enjoyable and informative one for their many clients present on the night. The hospitality and bonhomie was splendid and as ever at a Peller event, there was much to enjoy.