This is a well conceived and well executed concert in the classic Blues Brothers style. A faultless band is at its heart and supports great vocals from the cast. This is a show to enjoy as the music rocks body and soul.
Everybody in the whole cell block was dancing to the Jailhouse Rock!
The Blues Brothers: Summer Special has come to town bringing the soul back into life at The Hippodrome. The last time this production played in London was for Christmas 2015 and Blues Brothers’ fans from all over the country will be shouting ‘Hallelujah’ when they hear of this new season.
From the moment the band takes their place until the final chord of the 2nd encore, the energy level generated by the performance is phenomenal. A programme of well known classics from the repertoire of the original Blues Brothers’ movie is augmented with summer rock and roll references.
A highlight among many is Do You Love Me? This high energy song epitomizes their style – which is firmly rooted in the music. With the richness of the band as the heart, the backing and excellent lead vocals are sung with panache and everyone dances up a storm.
The Brothers themselves are very good. David Kristopher-Brown sings the role of ‘Joliet’ Jake Blues and never misses a note, frequently surprising with nifty dance moves. Elwood, his brother in blues, is played by Joshua Mumby, who also directs the production. His performance is memorable for his versatility, physical prowess and harmonica blues.
Arnold Marbhena appears as Ray with a dynamic rendition of the signature song Shake Your Tail Feather. He later sings Minnie the Moocher as Curtis and also makes a wonderful reverend with a heavenly choir backing him. His split leaps are outstanding. Marbhena is new to the cast and whilst his singing is good he has yet to embrace the depths of the characters he plays. He needs to bleed a little, especially as the reverend.
There are several opportunities in the show that move the Stax Sisters from the backline to the front and they are fabulous. Think features the winning vocals of Hannah Lee and R-e-s-p-e-c-t is sung by Helen Hart. Both sparkle in the spotlight. Hart in particular gives a heartfelt virtuoso rendition of this and her other solo numbers.
The band is fundamental to the success of this production. Maestro James Robert Ball leads from the keyboards where he proves himself a musical and comedic force. He has combined his band into a very effective unit. All instruments are featured in solos and Wesley Frankel on the saxophone deserves special mention.
Both the lighting and sound well designed and executed and housing the show in this unusual cabaret space is an excellent choice for the style of the production.
See this show in a mood to get carried away in the moment and joy of the phenomenon that is The Blues Brothers.