I’ve been a Bob Dylan fan since the 1960’s so I was looking forward to seeing this tribute band ‘The Bob Dylan Story’ at Whitley Bay Playhouse. As a musician myself I was interested in how Bob’s songs would be performed and how close the vocalist’s voice would be to Dylan’s. I didn’t have to wait long to be disappointed. From the first song ‘The Times they are a’changin’, I was shaking my head in despair. The vocalist may have been dressed like an early Dylan with the denim cap and harmonica holder but he sang like a character from the Muppets rather than Bob Dylan. Also the phrasing of the lyrics in some of the songs was not the same as real Dylan. His guitar and harmonica skills were obvious and the backing musicians were excellent. As the show progressed, I thought his vocal impersonation deteriorated to the point where I politely laughed to myself. When he narrated the lyrics to ‘Hurricane’ in his normal voice he was sounded fine. I think the show would improve if he stuck with that, rather than the odd accent.
So, last night it was back to the early 1970s to watch the T.Rex tribute band, TRexasty at Whitley Bay Playhouse. I have to admit that I was more of a Tyrannosaurus Rex fan, having all their albums but just the first T.Rex, although I did like their singles. The show started with an excellent version of ‘20th Century Boy’, even though it was billed as an acoustic set. Later in the first half a string quartet was added which I thought complimented the band very well. At the beginning of the second half there was a short Q & A which was a pleasant and interesting surprise. Musically, the band were excellent as was ‘Marc Bolan’. The encore was ‘Hot Love’ which had the audience on its feet, hand in the air, chanting the chorus of ‘La la la la la’. Other notable performances were ‘Children of the Revolution’, ‘Ride a white swan’ and of course, ‘Get it on.’ I’d forgotten just how many hits T.Rex had in their heyday. Overall, a brilliant, joyous night enjoyed by all.
Once again I delved into the past and went to see a matinee performance of ‘Motown the musical’ at Sunderland Empire Theatre. One of the first singles I bought was ‘My Guy’ by Mary Wells, so I’ve enjoyed Motown music for many years. I was interested in the story of how Berry Gordy started Tamla Motown, and yes it was interesting. The actor performing him had a good voice but he was surpassed by the performers who were ‘Stevie Wonder’ complete with beaded dreadlocks and a young ‘Michael Jackson’ as a member of the Jackson Five. As for the rest, they played their parts well enough and with great enthusiasm. Of course, the songs were great but diminished by the orchestration which made the songs lose their unique sound– there was none of the ‘driving bass lines’ that made Motown music incomparable. I think that this show has all the elements to make it great, but the orchestra needs replacing with something more like ‘Motown’.