Swansea Grand Theatre
Swansea Grand Theatre
Review by Graham Williams
Wed 14th Jul 2010Previous Page
Rollercoaster ride through ELO classics
A RECENT letter to the Post bemoaned the fact that the Grand books tribute acts at the supposed expense of more adventurous fare. This is a gripe with which I strongly disagree, for the simple reason that most of the people who complain about populist entertainment at the Grand are the very ones who fail to turn out and support the gem in Swansea's theatrical crown when it presents high-quality drama and dance.
In my 11 years of visiting the Grand I have come to learn that a good tribute band is worth its weight in gold, and The ELO Experience certainly comes into that category: this is a superlative musical outfit featuring performers who clearly adore and have the greatest respect not only for the music of Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra, but also for their audience.
From the moment the music started, it was evident that this was going to be classy stuff: pitch perfect and faithful to the spirit of the original band, Andy Louis and his fellow musicians (Pete Johnson, Tony Lawson, Jan Christiansen, keyboard player Steve Hemsley and cellists Viv Blackledge and Marissa Steer) took us on a rollercoaster ride of musical nostalgia that embraced all of ELO's finest recordings.
All the old favourites were here, performed with reverence, accuracy and showmanship: we had to wait until the encore for Mr Blue Sky — perhaps their best known and most fondly regarded hit — but there were some delightful offerings along the way, including Don't Bring Me Down, Wild West Hero, Turn To Stone, The Diary Of Horace Wimp and the soaring, disco-style number Last Train To London, a song which I had very nearly forgotten until I heard it again here.
Shows such as this one invariably attract very large and hugely appreciative audiences, boosting box office sales and drawing people into the theatre who might not normally dream of attending live performances in a formal venue. One-nighters such as this are the life-blood of many theatres up and down the country, and the best of them — including this one — are always worth a look.