UK singing legend Tony Christie live on stage. Remember his hits Amarillo, Las Vegas, Avenues and Alleyways, I Did What I Did For Maria.
Also featuring New Zealand's jazz virtuoso Rodger Fox and special supporting act USA's "The Drifters".
Once again, I entered the wonderful and magical Regent Theatre, amongst a crowd of other avid guests. This time we were given prime seating, down near the front, but far enough back that we didn't have to worry about sore necks or blown eardrums... which was great news.
The lights dimmed, and the show was on. Onto the stage saunters the MC, a charming gent with a wicked sense of humour, who, after a quick warmup medly by the band, 'Transfer', introduced onto the stage Billy Washington's Drifters. Now, I think it onlt fair to point out to those readers who remember the original Drifters, these guys are NOT them. This is one of the splinter groups using the Drifters name, but though they aren't the originals, they weren't far off track at all. They fired up with some great classics, including my all-time fave, "Under the Boardwalk". I tell you, I had my toes tapping from the first song right through to the last.
It was stunning to hear the music I grew up with being brought to life again, with a stunning vocal range from floorboard-shaking bass to a falsetto that had me wondering if there wasn't a hidden stagehand performing an emergency wedgie on the poor lads! I had to laugh when I overheard whispered comments to that effect from some nearby patrons. However, the music was sublime, and it was great to see couples dancing in the aisles, and the standing ovation when the lads left the stage at the end of their set, heralding the start of the 15 minute intermission.
A quick stop in the restrooms to make room, a stopover at the bar to grab a delightfully cold beer to wash away the summer heat, and a quick chat with the lads as they signed CDs and Programmes in the foyer, then it was time to return to my seat for the main event, Tony Christie, live with the Roger Fox Band.
The last time Tony toured through was over 30 years ago, and he recaled with great pleasure how it was to sing in the old Regent, and how wonderful the restoration was, bringing to life the old theatre. And I tell you, the improved acoustics were really showcased this night.
By comparison, it was plain to see why Tony was the headliner... the music was more polished, smoother, and the band were really 'into the sound' which really added to the performance more than you would expect. A performance is more than the sum of it's parts, one tiny thing can make or break a show like this, and it was awesome to see how Tony turned a lighting cue glitch into a great gag. When the spotlight moved off him, he hammed it up good-naturedly and made it a relaxing tension-breaker instead of an annoyance. Well done Tony.
I must be honest, despite growing up with music ranginf from the 50's and up, I didn't recognise a lot of Tony's tracks... the few I did recall were very poignant, such as "Daddy Don't You Walk so Fast" and "Solitaire", but this didn't detract one iota from a thoroughly enjoyable night of fine music appreciation. Age has treated his voice like a fine wine... it has matured well, held it's body and strength, and most of all it's power. He's no spring chicken, but he sings like the head rooster, loud and proud, and full of passion.
During the perfomance, Tony quipped at how all his songs seem to be about loss, betrayal and death... he was right, but that didn't stop them being wonderful entertainment... but I had to wonder if he should try singing Ol' Westerns in his twilight years... I am sure he can recall a dog that died, a wife that ran away and a horse that went lame...
Overall, the highlight for me was the final few songs, when he stapped away from his own musical menu, and did a few of his favourite cover songs, such as the ever-popular "Mr Bo Jangles" (I still prefer it sung by Sammy Davis Jr, but this was a stunning rendition none the less) and "Under My Skin" which I sang along with Under My breath, to avoid scaring the natives... . The encore was, naturally, his most famous song... Amarillo... which I didn't recognise clearly, but had a vague idea it was played a bit in my youth... and which I enjoyed singing along with on the chorus. A stunning night, by brilliant performers, in a wonderful theatre... well worth the effort to dress up and head into town.
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