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The Blues Brothers Experience

Work’s pretty challenging again at the moment – four bids to get out of the door this week! So I’m pretty tired, and really the last thing I wanted to do was to drag myself out again in the evening. A night in front of the telly sounded really attractive! However, there was a Blues Brothers tribute band on at Malvern Theatres, for one night only, and I had a ticket. I knew I’d enjoy it if I made myself go, so I gave myself a good talking to and made a huge effort to get out of the house.

I went to a Blues Brothers evening about eighteen months ago and was expecting a repeat of the same act. But this one was clearly a different show – the Blues Brothers Experience rather than the Blues Brothers Approved. Who would have thought there was enough demand for two competing tribute shows? In fact, I’m not entirely sure that there is – the Forum Theatre must have been no more than a third full, which was a shame.

Nevertheless, despite the lack of atmosphere from the audience, I did thoroughly enjoy myself once the evening got started. The band rattled through most of the standard Blues Brothers canon, and threw in several extra numbers for good measure. The main singers did a pretty good impression of Jake and Elwood Blues, and “Elwood” in particular had the body language as well as the voice down to a tee. There was also a female singer with a very powerful voice, who did a good Aretha Franklin take-off in “Think”. The guitarists were also very good, with the bass guitarist spending much of his time walking around moodily, pipe clenched between his teeth, doing an uncanny impression of Donald “Duck” Dunn from the film.

The only let-down was the horn section. There were four of them, but they clearly weren’t as comfortable with the music as the others. One of them, the saxophonist, clearly had the sheet music in front of her and was playing from it, and seemed very uncertain about what was going on. I did wonder whether she was an understudy, playing in her first gig! Looking at the band’s website afterwards, it appears that the core team (singers, guitarists, keyboards, drummer) form a constant nucleus of the band, and they bring in session musicians to play sax, trombone and horn. That certainly fitted with the impression I’d got that the horn section were far less a polished act than the others.

It was a very enjoyable, if extremely loud, evening. I got home still singing along to “Shake your Tailfeather”! I might even have to put the DVD of the film on this weekend and remind myself of the context of all the songs……