REVIEW: Mamma Mia!
LOCATION: Wales Millennium Centre
DATE: 12th October 2016
It’s fair to say it’s one of the biggest, if not the biggest jukebox musical of all time and it’s currently on tour around the UK with it’s present home of the Wales Millennium Centre. And as a footnote, tonight’s performance was the 3000th of a UK tour!
What more can be said about Mamma Mia that’s not been said before? It’s one of the biggest selling DVD’s, the music that it’s based around is from the biggest export of Sweden (baring Volvo and Ikea), and did you know Mamma Mia! Isn’t the first attempt at employing the ABBA catalogue for a stage musical. Abbacadabra was originally a French TV special that employed ABBA songs with altered French lyrics to tell classic fairy tales. In 1983, it was adapted to the London stage and ran for eight weeks.
If you’ve lived under a rock since 1999 and haven’t seen the film, this is the general premise;
It’s the story of a former pop-singer turned hotel owner on a Greek Island. On the weekend of her daughter’s wedding, she is reunited with the former members of her girl group and three ex-beaus, one of whom is the father of the bride-to-be. Add to this, the music of Abba, the feel of a summer romance and you have one of the biggest and brightest musicals of the last 20 years.
When you review something like this there’s a danger of letting each performance be praised when there were particular moments for me to have the hairs stand on the back of my neck. Sara Poyzer’s Winner takes it all was one of those moments as was her number with Jaqueline Braun and Emma Clifford of Dancing Queen. The choreography is just stunning in the group numbers of Lay all your love on me and Gimme Gimme Gimme. Richard Standing as Sam provides the perfect opposite to Sara’s Donna – dot dot dot. And mention also to Lucy May Barker who plays Sophie, with a voice like that it won’t be long till she’s headlining a musical.
Mamma Mia was the first major musical of its kind, and since then we’ve had the music of Queen (We Will Rock You), Madness (Our House), The Kinks (Sunny Afternoon) and Spice Girls…. Well okay, that’s not the best comparison as it didn’t last too long. So okay, Jukebox Musicals aren’t everybody’ s cup of tea, you can’t put a Wicked against a We Will Rock You, but for a night of pure pop brilliance from one of the music’s best writers, an escape from the humdrum grind of the day to day life, get yourself down to the Wales Millennium Centre as Mamma Mia is there till 13th November.
It won’t cost much Money Money Money, for you to say I do I do I do, just ring ring the box office and you’ll be the winner that takes it all. Go on, take a chance!
From opening with run the world to the last moments of Halo, the sold out LG Arena crowd were subjected to an amazing show by one of the world’s biggest stars. Performance wise she was faultless, even though she was suffering with a cold, and admitted early on that she wasn’t feeling her best, performing some of the biggest female anthems of the past decade seemed to help lift her.
Back in January at Obama’s inauguration, there was some speculation whether or not she “lip-syncd’d”. Not saying this was the case last night, but to the trained ear you could tell when/if she was (note the way I’m saying or not saying that she did). When you have a show, not a gig, the pyrotechnics, visual effects, and sound all become part of the full package. If Beyonce just did a sit-down acoustic gig, she could quite easily do that – the voice is evident. But with a show as complex as the Mrs Carter World Tour, some parts do need extra help. There’s not one person who witnessed the show last night, that would feel they were cheated in some way – Beyonce is the full package. I’ve seen Madonna back in 2005, and couldn’t help feeling that for all her huge success, her show lacked that something extra. Last night I finally worked out what Madonna lacked – Likability. Speaking as someone who wouldn’t class himself as a huge obsessive fan, I’ve a new found respect and can see why she is one of the biggest female stars on planet pop.
Only gripe I did have were the films between sets. Granted they were a necessity owing to the amount of costume changes (7 I think I counted), but they felt a bit too random – and yes, one of them was the O2 Priority “ad” that was running before the tickets went on sale.
From the moment it started, to the moment it finished, you hardly had chance to take breath. Previous to the LG appearances, she had a baby and headlined Glastonbury in 2011. What next for Mrs Carter, time will tell I’m sure, but I for one will be looking forward to that time.
Run the World (Girls)
End of Time
Flaws and All
If I Were a Boy
Get Me Bodied
I Miss You
Why Don’t You Love Me
Love on Top
Survivor (Destiny’s Child cover)
Crazy in Love
Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)
I Will Always Love You (into)
Avril Lavigne returns with a piece of pure indie pop.
She’s is set to return this summer with a new single, “Here’s To Never Growing Up,” due for release on 2nd June and co-written with fiancé Chad Kroeger. “Here’s To Never Growing Up” personifies the party-like atmosphere that existed in the studio during the recording of Avril’s 5th studio album.
Ignore the fact it’s co-written by the bloke from Nickelback, it’s actually quite good. And even now after one full exposure to the entire song, I can remember the hook. That’s either a good sign, or not – I mean, how quickly it veers into the listener’s ear and how quickly will people get fed up of it.
Listening, you can hear elements of the likes of Fun, Pink, Ke$ha and Rita Ora. That’s not a criticism, and it’s probably what will make this song one of the big tunes of Summer 2013, perfectly timed for all those end of school year parties.
The video is something quite smart too. You may remember recently being asked to submit yourself via an app, singing along to the song – that’s what the video is. It takes the concept of the single shot youtube karaoke video and utilizes it quite brilliantly – although not as good as Feeder’s Just a Day video – that was special!
It will be one of the bigger songs of the Summer. It’s already been released in the US and some of Europe, but in the UK we won’t get it officially until 2nd June. So in the meantime you’ll have to cope with just the video
Mumford and Sons – Whispers in the Dark
Straight from their success at the Grammy’s and the Brit’s – The Mumford’s release another single from Babel.
Can the boys keep the quality of the previous single releases? Is the Pope Catholic? (If you needed to query either of those, please desist reading the rest of this).
Song aside, the video is a clever four split screen affair, in a Peep Show style following each member, and ends as the curtain raises on a live show.
Although it’s track two on the second album, it’s been knocking around a bit since the latter part of 2011.
I’m probably a late starter to the world of Mumford having only really discovered them on the second single from Sigh no more. Since then I’ve followed what they’ve achieved and managed to see them live – which, ranks in my top 10 gigs (those who know, will realise having seen over 30 gigs in the past 18 month is a massive thing).
There’s already work on album number three with synth and electric guitar being muted. However they develop and move their sound, on this latest single’s performance, there shall be more converts to the cause of the Mumford!
Whispers in the Dark is a standard M&S song, quiet and slow verse, bursting into life in the bridge and chorus, which is what makes them live, something unique. Just when you think the gig is in a lull, it’s back with a bang, and WITD is no exception.
It might no set the singles chart alive, but it’ll prove helpful to boosting sales of Babel there’s no doubt about that!
(Originally written March 2013)
If you’ve ever had the feeling of “I know this song but don’t really know why” – then Wales Millennium Centre is the place to be at the moment.
Venue Cymru Llandudno’s production of High Society is one of those musicals which has slowly evolved into popular culture. Robbie Williams’ version of Well, did you evah, and Elton John & Kiki Dee with their cover of True Love back in 1993.
Adapted from the hit 1956 film, which starred screen legends Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra. This uplifting and sparkling production proves Porter’s classic musical style and fizzing wit will always be in fashion. But what’s it about?
Wealthy socialite Tracy Lord is in the midst of planning a lavish summer wedding when her ex-husband Dexter Haven turns up to disrupt the proceedings in an attempt to try and win her back. A further twist arrives in the form of charming reporter Mike Connor who falls instantly for Tracy, and she for him. As the day of the wedding draws closer we’re left guessing which groom the bride will choose…
Now, as the hardened critic that I am, it has to be said, I loved it. It’s a nice bit of escapism and maybe a little piece of how innocent life once was. The storyline could quite easily be updated to modern day and star Matthew McConaughey – but as it stands, on its own merits as a musical, it’s a really nice piece and a great way to spend a night at the theatre. The female cast were definitely stronger vocally on all counts.
High Society, what a swell musical it is!
High Society is at Wales Millennium Centre until Saturday 16th March
It’s the fifth time of seeing him (supporting Lily Allen and as part of the Summertime Ball last year), so I kind of get what he’s about. He’s like a mini rave in a can and there’s no doubt that the worshippers to the throne of EG get their money’s worth.
Kicking it off with “Kickstarts”, all the way through the big hitters of his three hit albums, there can be little doubt that there’s a lot of love in that room on a Monday night. Maybe from time to time I get slightly cynical when an artist says “you’re the best we’ve had on this tour”, well okay that might be to do with the amount of gigs I’ve been to, and to his credit, he never uttered those words all night. Instead we were “raving on a Monday night” (I’ve paraphrased that slightly).
It’s been brilliant to watch him develop as an artist & performer too. Back when he supported Lily Allen in the very same room he commanded it the same way then as now. The main difference is the quality of the song writing/producing. From “Watch the sun come up” to “Say nothing” the difference is palpable. From small venues, to arenas, to festivals, you get an air of confidence he’s comfortable anywhere – although it’s interesting to note the way the staging how small an area it was – plus the first time he’s had big screens in the arena – someone’s making a bit of cash now
Stand out moments of the night have to be “Playing in the Shadows”, “See the sea”, “We’ll be coming back” (although I did think he was a bit flat at this point… or was it the acoustics…), “Say nothing”, which if you’ve ever seen Coldplay live and the audience participation of Viva La Vida, you’ll understand why I love this so much now. Not forgetting his biggest song to date, and one I can get 9765 on Singstar on, “Changed the way you kiss me”.
Whatever happened in between “Kickstarts” and “Changed the way you kiss me”, proves that it doesn’t matter the size of the venue or the staging, all that matters is that there’s a connection between you and the song, and for the 5,000 plus people within Motorpoint Arena Cardiff last night, that connection was a strong as ever.
Elliot – you’re a shining example of how it should be done!
Setlist (as much as I can recall)
Won’t Go Quietly
See the Sea
Come Taste the Rainbow
Playing in the Shadows
Under the Influence
Shot Yourself in the Foot Again
Let’s Be F**king Stupid
Watch the Sun Come Up
We’ll Be Coming Back Again
Changed the Way You Kiss Me
As a footnote, can I thank the person in St Davids 2 Carpark who lent me 10p. I’d kept enough change for the machine, put it all in, but was 10p short (machine missed a coin maybe?). Went to pay with a £10 note, found the note bit not working, was about to put in my debit card – yes for 10p – when the guy behind offered me 10p to pay… so thank you. And the lesson is… make sure you have enough change!
Patrick Downes is a former head of music, producer, and commercial radio presenter with 16 years airtime, and is now part of the community radio station at Bro Radio in Vale of Glamorgan, UK. Check out his facebook page at www.soof.co.uk
From the first few seconds of hearing his voice, your immediately transformed back to the late 90’s heyday of the Lighthouse Family and their frontman Tunde Baiyewu. He’s returned with new solo material and as a massive fan of LF I eagerly awaited his return.
The new single, “Move” taken from the forthcoming album DIAMOND IN A ROCK, is an interesting first listen. Once you get past the fact that you will start humming other LF tracks, the song is a nice feel good tune – just the kind of thing to get us out of these cold nights.
If this is a taster of the album, then it’ll be a good listen. Whether that translates into sales is another story. Back in the 90s commercial radio backed LF massively and when Tunde’s solo material surfaced, the support continued. But then the bubble burst and maybe now commercial radio isn’t the place it once was, but for that loss, is definitely Radio 2’s gain. Expect to hear this on the nation’s biggest radio station soon!
And if it wasn’t enough to hear this song, how about having some acoustic tracks for FREE! Check his website out at http://www.tunde.co.uk/
Watch the video here
‘Move’ is the first single to be taken from Tunde’s new album Diamond In A Rock (March 4), and also features on a live EP which he is currently giving away free through his website- http://www.tunde.co.uk/
If you’ve been living under a rock for the best part of 20 years, you’ll not know what Dirty Dancing is about. In a nutshell, girl meets badboy, falls for badboy, annoys her father, and then at the end provides the dance move for every single drunken wedding reception… which normally ends up in a heap on the floor. There, I think you’ve got the idea.
It’s instilled into every female of a certain age although, and this may surprise you, I know of one woman of the age of 29, who’s never seen Dirty Dancing all the way through. In her words she got “bored halfway through”. She’s also not seen Ghost, but that’s another story. So in Cardiff at the moment is Dirty Dancing the musical (DDTM). And my friend who’s gotten “bored halfway through” normally is seeing it with me. A challenge? Maybe.
Now you need to know that DDTM is not a musical in the traditional sense. Yes, music is played and songs sung, but for the main part, it’s accurate to the film even with the dance training montage. But you don’t get Johnny Castle or Baby suddenly bursting into song like in other musicals – this is no South Pacific. It’s more about the experience of watching a film, live in front of you. Not on a small 19” telly or on a big multiplex cinema screen, but living breathing and able to touch – which is what theatre is about (although the latter part would get you thrown out of the auditorium).
So what about DDTM? Now I could pick up on technical things, like accent, or audio problems, but for the sold out crowd at Wales Millennium Centre, it isn’t about that. It’s exactly as I’ve previously described – it’s about the experience. It’s watching your fantasy come to life in front of you – you want to be the one who carries the watermelon – you’re the one who cheers when the immortal line about corners and baby is uttered. And for the record, my friend enjoyed it – and didn’t get bored half way through.
It has a cast that’s full of energy to carry the performance from start to finish, and if you’re a fan of the film, you’ll leave feeling elated. I think even if you’re not such a massive fan you’ll leave thinking it wasn’t 2 hours of your life that you won’t get back. You will, as the song goes, have the time of your life.
Now, I’m off to do some writing What about Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – The Musical…
The first thing to realise about Sister Act the musical, is that all that you know from the two films is wrong – well, as far as the music is concerned anyway. Due to copyright issues, the musical has its own soundtrack, and what an amazing soundtrack it is. Composed by Alan Menken & Glenn Slatter, the geniuses behind some of Disney’s modern greats like The Little Mermaid, Enchanted, and the sequel to Phantom of the Opera, Love never dies. The music and sound of Sister Act will move you like no other musical can. Packed with the sound of Philadelphia, Motown, funk, soul and disco it’s a blast from start to finish.
If you’ve never seen the film, here’s brief synopsis from their website;
When disco diva Deloris Van Cartier witnesses a murder, she is put in protective custody in the one place the cops are sure she won’t be found – a convent! Disguised as a nun she makes the wrong impression on the convent’s strict Mother Superior. But when she transforms the convent’s choir into the most glorious new musical act in town, Deloris forms a lasting bond with her new-found friends and the gang that’s chasing her finds itself up against an unstoppable team of soulful sisters!
Featuring a cast of well known names from musical theatre, and soap stars Michael Starke (Sinbad from Brookie), and Denise Black (Denise Osbourne in Corrie), and in the lead role Cynthia Erivo, who’s voice is, to put it in context, heavenly. She reminds me of Lauren Hill, who of course appeared in the second Sister Act movie, plus was a huge worldwide star with the Fugees. Her voice is stunning. Other notable performances go to Julie Atherton as Sister Mary Robert. If you know the film, you’ll know her character is quite quiet, but builds. And her voice carried brilliantly around the auditorium of the Wales Millennium Centre.
Whatever religion you believe in (or don’t). Spending two and a half hours with these heavenly voices will leave you praying for more. It’s a sin if you don’t come and see it, just don’t worry if you’ve got any dirty habits .
Sister Act The Musical plays at the Wales Millenium Centre until 4th August, then continues its UK tour, more details here