Butlins, Minehead October 14th 2015 evening session
Reviewer Mark Ritchie
A final fling consisting entirely of tributes greeted those gathering in The Reds venue for the conclusion of this year’s John Mills agency flagship event.
Katy Ellis performs a Taylor Swift tribute show resplendent in a gold, sparkling sequinned number. I’m well aware of the shrewd business-woman and pop star that is Taylor Swift, but quite how marketable she is as a tribute subject is debatable.
Buzz D’Angelo and his band came next and the ‘in-character’ Buzz was led to his piano stool in the guise of Ray Charles. Later D’Angelo re-appeared belting the piano as Little Richard and this multi-tribute show also features his brilliant impersonation/tribute to James Brown. This whole show is tremendously marketable and surely right at the upper end of the tribute budget field.
Tania Alboni had appeared earlier in the day with an outstanding Amy Weinhouse tribute act. Now she was back and taking a crack at Cher. While, in my view, not a patch on her Weinhouse, The Cher act is well worth a look.
Tania’s hubby Darren had also appeared earlier in the day with a great Mick Hucknall tribute. Keeping up, with the missus, Darren, made his second appearance as a more than acceptable Elvis.
Take four female dancers, a semi-live three piece backing band, some clever lighting and sound programming. Then add the best Michael Jackson tribute artiste I have ever seen and here you have Forever Jackson. I saw the singer and dancer Robin Parsons in Blackpool performing in The Legends show in the summer and this show surely stands alone as a full production show market-leader. This really is as good as tribute gets. The bookers seemed to be flooding towards the John Mills team, presumably with work opportunities.
Anyone attempting a Freddie Mercury tribute really has to be bang on the money, as the voice of the dear departed Mercury is instantly recognisable. Suffice it to say that the suitably toothsome Gary Goodmaze has all the moves but, in my view, vocally in speech and song were both miles away from anything acceptable.
Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons tributes are a popular as they are plentiful these days. Bye-Bye Baby were on view here and although, in my view, there are a number of better examples of this particular tribute subject, this act is sure to remain busy after their Butlins showcase outing.
Andrea Patterson had travelled from Sunderland to attend this showcase with her tribute to Dolly Parton. There are two requirements to pull off a Dolly Parton impression and not the obvious two, which focus on bra size. They consist of humour and a trilling Tennessee voice. I’m sure that Ms Patterson’s trip from Wearside to Somerset won’t have been a wasted one.
Paul Tayler is an occasional UK Cabaret feature writer, so perhaps we should establish that no favours are being either offered or expected here. Performing a segment from his multi-tribute show, which includes, Bowie, Jackson, Buble and Mercury, Tayler evokes memories of soul and motown music with spot on vocal impressions of the likes of Percy Sledge and The Big Bopper. In segment form or as a complete show, Tayler has immense, broad appeal.
As was the case with Frankie Valli type tribute shows, there are numerous Take That clones around. The Take That Experience have enough lookalike and sound alike ability, with ‘Robbie’ and ‘Gary’ to make their mark. The backing tracks were a bit busy, but the diary should fill briskly.
Closing the whole event out was Abba Arrival, who have been a tribute market-leader for some years now. By now the quality bar was set and as a closing act, Abba Arrival were well up to the job.
In short, the JMA team, the entire Butlins stage and sound crew, the unflappable Compere Steve Walls and everyone involved will surely have been justly proud of a terrific live event.