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Review: All New Original Tribute to The Blues Brothers/Liverpool Empire

Ian Moore says the show may have lost the plot, but hey

Published on February 14th 2011.


Review: All New Original Tribute to The Blues Brothers/Liverpool Empire

ANYONE hoping to revisit the hit 1980s film The Blues Brothers may be sorely disappointed if they go along to the Liverpool Empire this week.

This isn’t a musical theatre piece, more a gig, with little nods to the characters created on America’s Saturday Night Live; the show that gave birth to so many comedians from the 70s through to current day.

However, what the All New Original Tribute to The Blues Brothers lacks in that direction, it more than makes up for in content and flair.

The show, which returns to Liverpool following a sell out tour across Europe, has “Joliet” Jake (Brad Henshaw) and Elwood (Daniel Fletcher) Blues, the prodigal brothers, bringing every ounce of energy as well as heart thumping rhythm and blues to the fore in a show which encompasses many of the classic tracks from the film, and more.

But this isn’t a musical theatre piece, more a gig, with little nods to the characters created on America’s Saturday Night Live; the show that gave birth to so many comedians from the 70s through to current day.

The band was formed in 1978 by comedians Dan Aykroyd and the late great John Belushi as part of a musical skit on the show. They covered old blues and soul songs – released an album and then starred in their own movie directed by John Landis.

The tragic death of Belushi meant the end of the band, but it's not stopped the wagon rolling on in the intervening 20-odd years.

The opening scene of The all new Original Tribute to The Blues Brothers is true tongue-in-cheek Saturday Night Live style-humour and more than a testimony to Ackroyd and Belushi; I won’t spoil what happens, however the show explodes into life with the Peter Gunn Theme and the brothers' first entrance is different to say the least.

On their mission to bring “Soul and Blues” back into your heart, Jake and Elwood are joined by the saucy and raunchy Bluettes (Jocasta Almgill, Alexus Ruth and Vicky Goddard) who really strut their stuff, and by one of the finest seven piece bands who truly deliver on classic tracks such as Everybody, Shake A Tail Feather, Sweet Home Chicago, Think, Respect, Gimme Some Loving, and loads, loads more.

There simply is no story arc to consider, just Henshaw and Fletcher swaggering and cavorting across the stage in the famous pork pie hats, sunglasses and ties capturing the humour, vigour, and even some of the mannerisms of the originals with some accuracy.

With spirited choreography by Debbie Jenner and effective lighting (Tjeerd Hendriks) this was the perfect antidote for the depressing winter blues.

Have no preconceptions: this is a high-octane celebration of the songs from the movie delivered with swaggering dynamism.

7/10: Prepare to party.

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saladdazeFebruary 9th 2011.

But is it one of those Empire shows spoiled by the baldies and yummies with weak bladders and fag addictions who spend half the bleedin' time in and out on big heels for a lager or a smoke or a pee or reading and answering their text messages? It was never like this when Sam Wanamaker ran the Shakey. I blame Thatcher and Blair and the stuff in school dinners.

younger-than-twiggy-anywayFebruary 12th 2011.

Saw this last night and all I can say, is tonight is the last night and if you were stuck for an outing, GO! The show brought the house down and I give it 9/10. It lost 1 mark for lack of plot, but the humour and energy more than makes up for that. The two leads, Brad Henshaw and Daniel FLetcher compliment each other with perfect hilarity. Band great, three female back up singers/dancers top notch, same for the band, so exciting to see it on stage. Oozes talent. Go, go, go. Or go to Manchester when it plays there later.

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