Skip to main content

Review of The ELO Experience at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton


Tribute groups and performers can be dangerous territory. For every quality one, you could fill the rest of your fingers and toes with those that, let’s say, are not of such quality. Therefore trepidation is always likely to be lurking when seeing any for the first time and to take on the Electric Light Orchestra could be considered an even riskier challenge.

During the seventies and into the eighties, Birmingham formed group the Electric Light Orchestra created through their distinctive style some of the most familiar hybrids of rock, pop and orchestral songs to this day. So for any tribute band to attempt to create such a well loved and unique group could be considered a challenge. Over the past seven years, the ELO Experience has made it their challenge. However with the rousing and superb opener of All Over The World the scene was set for a pristine and quality evening.

Andy Louis in the role of Jeff Lynne (all dark glasses and hair) as lead vocal and rhythm guitar is an immediate and dynamic presence on stage. Providing exceptional vocal similarity to Lynne, as well as being a wonderfully witty, charismatic character. His repartee with the rest of the group is fun and he has a confident air with the audience as well. The rest of the group is of equally impressive quality from Jan Christiansen and Pete Smith on lead and bass guitar respectively and amusingly willing to join in with Louis’ guitar showdown antics. Tony Lawson on drums and percussion is excellent, while Steve Hemsley is superb on keyboard and as Louis comments he has “a voice of an angel”. A wonderful departure also from the familiar all male line-up of ELO are the ladies of the strings. Viv Blackledge and Clare Little provide via their cello’s that wonderful ELO distinct sound. While latest recruit Liz Stacey is a revelation on violin.

The standard band layout on stage is complimented with a cleverly used projection screen providing a cute Lego animation during The Diary Of Horace Wimp, crowd pleasing comedy during Rock ‘n’ Roll Is King and inspirational footage during Hold On Tight. The lighting is also used well throughout, giving a stadium air to proceedings.

The set performed covered the majority of ELO’s most famous songs and all were of an exceptional quality. Among the best were Telephone Line which was superbly done complete with that key telephone sound, as well as the first half closing Livin’ Thing. Last Train To London also had a lovely audience pleasing addition. Many other familiar songs were covered including the classics Confusion, Evil Woman and Turn To Stone and of course Mr Blue Sky. Also the slightly less familiar Standin’ In The Rain and Summer Lightning were performed.

As with any show like this the crowd interaction is key and while it’s clear that other than a few pockets of activity; one gentleman in a box was dancing nearly the whole of the show; the Northampton crowd were a little reserved in the first half. However at the behest for audience participation in the second half from Louis, and clutching their glowsticks. The audience very much came alive in the second half. So much so that there was dancing from a select few in the aisles and a couple near the front were doing a full jive during Roll Over Beethoven. By the end song, every was up on their feet clapping, dancing and glowstick waving.

The whole evening was an absolute pleasure and I am almost certain that if ever the legend that is Jeff Lynne were to see The ELO Experience perform, I think he would be pleased to see his superb legacy living on in such well loved, well performed way. It is certain that the crowd of Northampton were ecstatic from their response. This is a tribute group of an overwhelming quality. Quite simply a must see.

[rating:5/5]



Performance reviewed: Saturday 6th September at the Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton. 

The ELO Experience performed at the Royal & Derngate (Derngate) on Saturday 6th September and are currently touring until Wednesday 3rd December. Full details can be found on their website here: http://www.elotribute.com/

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Blue/Orange at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

The challenging and socially relevant Blue/Orange by Joe Penhall was published in 2000 and back then, this caustic exploration of mental health, and more specifically black mental health issues, was a tremendously relevant play. When it debuted on stage in London, the cast of just three was played by Bill Nighy, Andrew Lincoln and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Director James Dacre doesn't have those names to play with so much in his cast, however here, he has worked with the writer himself to rework the play for a more modern audience. Does it still shock, and is the relevance still there today? Sadly, perhaps, the answer is yes, as doctors Bruce Flaherty and Robert Smith come to verbal blows over the health of patient Christopher, at times, you feel 21 years shed little light on how mental health is approached. Many references in the script, still sit unquestionably in the year 2000, however, with this reworking, one thing has changed dramatically. In the original version of the play, the two

Review of Sister Act by the Northampton Musical Theatre Company at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

South Pacific at Royal & Derngate last year set a remarkable benchmark for an "amateur" production, with a large talented cast, superb vocals, sets and a polish up there with a professional production. Sister Act, this years production from the Northampton Musical Theatre Company was more of the same, but perhaps taken up a notch or two. Sister Act is a musical based on the 1992 Whoopi Goldberg comedy and was first performed in 2009. Written by Bill and Cheri Steinkellner, it is a likable and fun musical which genuinely came as a surprise to me. The opening scene at Curtis's Bar and Nightclub is to be honest not the best though and genuinely didn't fill me with much hope. It feels as if it gives nothing to the cast, although it creates the premise of the story coupled with the incident outside the bar. Likewise, I didn't take much to the Police Station scene either, so it didn't bode well. When we reach the Queen Of Angels Cathedral though, this show

Review of Shrek (NMTC) at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

Three and a half years ago, in a land far far away, in a world very different to the one we are now in, I saw the touring professional production of Shrek The Musical , it was a mixed bag of quality, tilted extremely heavily in favour of one particular character (not the one you might expect) and not firing on all cylinders much of the time. One and a half years after my last visit to the Derngate theatre, I return to see the homegrown Northampton Musical Theatre Company's own take on the very same show. Would they be able to breathe more life into the show than the professionals did in that distant land? It is a bit of a yes and no really. Pretty much all of this is done to the best possible standard, and at times, with being an amateur show you could easily forget, they all have normal day jobs. The show oozes professional quality at times. The set looks magnificent, the costumes (from Molly Limpet's Theatrical Emporium) are superb, and as ever with NMTC, the backstage team c