Showcase productions 2014 – session 3
After a well-turned opening song from the ultra-efficient and talented compere Scott Gallagher, it was time for all the welcomes and bonhomie to the bumper number of attendees of this event.
One Stop Boogie performed a lengthy opening segued set, consisting of hits from the disco era. The fashions were ludicrously extravagant, as those of us old enough to remember that era can vouch for the authenticity of such outlandish garments. This two boy/two girl act perform to backing tracks, with a nod towards both the eighties and live instrumentation. One Stop Boogie feature a percussionist and a keyboard player whose organ resembles a huge illuminated chopper bike. Great fun!
Soulful singer Evah Morgan opened promisingly with a version of the Chaka Khan hit, Ain’t Nobody. Well dressed and possessing outstanding vocal ability, it would be great to see this lady singing in front of a huge live band. Great backing tracks certainly, but a vocalist of this standard surely belongs at the front of tip-top musicians.
SoulM8 (a trendy corruption of Soulmate) came next. This is a three guy soul and motown act, who have the look of a new venture about them. All three of these white-suited singers looked very serious, with faces that resemble those in a dentist’s waiting room about to undergo root canal treatment. There is a place in the market for these guys however and there is sure to have been interest.
Richard Barry possesses an impressive and wide tenor range. Having more than one string to the bow these days is imperative and Barry also gave us a sample of his 80’s show. Apart from the odd sartorial slip-up, Barry made a compelling case for attracting business. Soprano Jess D’Silva joined Barry on stage for a duet, which was very well sung, but the female half of the act should be aware that visible tattoos are frowned upon in some areas of the business.
I have never heard the Nile Rogers/Pharrell Williams hit Happy performed like the next act, Myth of Unity delivered it. Elements of rap and street-dance were presented by an act consisting of a male rapper, a female singer, two female dancers and a young guy at the back on vinyl and headphones. I’m afraid ‘getting down with the kids’ is not within my main area of show business knowledge, but the appeal of this act from family holiday park rooms, outdoor events and night clubs must be obvious.
Singer and dancer Paul Tayler also performs under the stage name of ‘Saul’. Aside from the cabaret act, this multi-talented performer also presents a Michael Jackson tribute show. (Check out the advertisement feature in last month’s publication of UK Cabaret). Sticking to editorial and not focussing on advertorial, it has to be said that Tayler is occupying a sparsely populated area of the tribute market. Not many people can pull off this impression, but Tayler’s outstanding and mesmerising interpretation of the ultimate musical oddball, is nothing short of superb.
A quartet of what appeared to be robot drummers came next. The act is known as UV Beatz. Audience members in fear of the spooky masked and hooded look need not have worried too much, as one of the robots broke out into an impromptu Macarena dance. When percussion is added to computerised backing, the effect is apparently known as a tool-mix. I’m afraid that statement has exhausted my knowledge on this type of act, except to say that at a product launch or works function these robots would rock!
The elegantly coiffured and attired singer Lindsay Dracass has the look of a band singer who has turned solo. The rather breathy vocal delivery could have a lot to do with the afternoon slot she was allotted and perhaps the lack of a full and proper vocal warm-up. However Dracass just belongs on stage and looks entirely natural. Admittedly audience interaction can be strained and overdone in showcase situations, but a verbal acknowledgement of the audience would have been nice. Also eschewing an interview with the customary interview with the compere at the end of her set must surely constitute a missed opportunity.
Masterpiece is a tribute quartet to The Temptations. Both immaculate dress and presentation are a kind of given, if any act is going to be successful in this field. These guys tick all the tribute boxes and 2015 business should be brisk.
Caledonian crooner Brian Le Vell had travelled south to impress one and all with his personality charm offensive. Looking dapper and thoroughly prepared, Le Vell is clearly an experienced cabaret campaigner, with a crisp and highly pitched voice. A medley of Andrew Lloyd Webber hits, set to a thumping Scottish reel rhythm, was both amusing and extremely well delivered.
Susanne Donkin was next up on stage and showcasing her Simply Adele tribute show. If the definition of a successful tribute artiste is lookalike and sound alike quality, then this artiste has to be a thumping success in both departments.
As traditional ‘old Clubland’ as it gets in terms of their guitar, bass and drums line-up are nostalgia music act The GFX Band. Back in time there were hundreds of such little live bands like GFX. The fact that so few such bands are out there gigging right now, could be a huge selling point for these Mancunian lads.
Two boy duo LSONE wasted much of their set on a largely superfluous and overblown intro, during which they stood motionless and back to back. Once finally breaking into song, we heard a version of the Michael Buble song, Home. An abundance of visible tattoos and a boy band image did little to help the cause of these bonny lads. However, one very important and redeeming factor was the prepared sounding voices, despite the abundance of distracting backing vocals, which rather over-egged the musical pudding.
Tyler Jon is a dead-ringer for his chosen tribute subject Gary Barlow. Presenting a memorable tribute to the talented singer/songwriter turned talent show twit, is quite a big ask, giving the sheer volume of those taking a crack at this particular tribute. I have endured many forlorn attempts at lookalike and sound alike status from reams of other Barlow tribute aspirants. This young man looks and sounds uncannily similar to the real thing, right down to the intonation and timbre of the accent.
I have long been an admirer of the superb cabaret singing star Tameka Jackson. Here along with a brace of backing singers, known as The Miracles, Ms Jackson was presumably reminding everyone that she was still very much around and ready for a busy 2015.
Closing another extremely strong and eclectic session off on the second day was a band called The Rollers. Their chosen tribute The Bay City Rollers, must be one of the most marketable tribute/party band subjects, provided the presentation and content is right. The Rollers are not a truly live band, but the tartan gear and accoutrements of seventies fashion, allied to the look and feel of a totally live band, should see considerable business coming their way.
So, time for everyone to be fed and watered before the final session of this new date in the national showcase calendar.
Steve Sale of Unit One Entertainment chose- Evah Morgan& Masterpiece
Julie Johnson (Advertising sales advisor-UK Cabaret) chose- Richard Barry &Paul Tayler as Michael Jackson-Ultimate Legend.