Halfway To Paradise Billy Fury Edinburgh 2014

HALFWAY TO PARADISE

PLAYHOUSE THEATRE EDINBURGH  REVIEW THURSDAY 13th NOVEMBER 2014

HOMEPAGE PAST REVIEWS 2016 PAST REVIEWS 2015

This a show that I had no idea of what to expect on stage as I had deliberately not done any research into it before going tonight, as I wanted to review the show with a completely open mind.  Billy Fury to me is one of those artists who peaked record chart wise before I was really aware of pop music.  He is, however, to me one of the most important of British recording artists from the late 1950s to early 1960s period, and without a handful of people like Billy Fury providing a musical bridge from the first wave of American rock'n'roll stars to the Beatles then there might not have been a musical explosion in Britain in the mid 1960s.  Billy Fury carried that musical torch and in the early 1960s released some of the best produced recordings out there.  Billy even famously passed on the Beatles as his backing band.  Billy Fury came from Liverpool and I sometimes wonder what would have happened if he had been just five years later on the music scene and part of that early 1960s musical explosion that happened there.

Tonight's show featured Colin Gold as Billy Fury, and Billy Fury's Tornados - his original backing band from the 1970s - featuring Graham Wyvill (Bass Guitar/Vocals), John Raynor (Drums/Vocals), Chris Raynor (Guitar & Vocals) and Charlie Elston (Piano / Keyboards / Vocals). Colin Gold was actually contacted after appearing on "Stars In Their Eyes" in 1996 by the band themself and the result over the last 18 years has been this show.  All the Billy Fury hits that you would expect are in tonight's show and some surprising other songs too.

I have to admit that this show tonight worked for me on some levels and not on others.  Musically the band are great and the "Billy Fury Sound" does not come any more authentic than from people who have worked with him for many years on stage.  The band are all obviously very comfortable with Colin Gold, who to me reproduces that audio sound I get from a Billy Fury record.  I have never seen Billy Fury live, but to have been together now for nearly 20 years this new partnership must be "authentic" to the band, and the audience tonight seemed to love the show. Most of them were certainly of an age to have bought the original records and to probably have seen Billy Fury himself performing live.  If the object of the show is to recreate what seeing Billy Fury on stage would have been like, then this show certainly works on a tribute/nostalgia level.

There is at times a certain sadness to this show though.  Great as it is to see talented musicians the ages of the original band members still on stage and enjoying their music, there is also at times a sadness that a good friend is no longer there coming across at times.

This is a very basic stage production; pretty much the band and some background projections related images with a sparse voice over giving basic information on the Billy Fury story as it progressed through the years.  There did seem to be a few audio issues at times tonight.  From where I was sitting (and I know a few other people commented on it), it was difficult to hear Charlie Elston on Piano/Keyboards a lot of the time (apart from a great solo).

This show has been running now for 18 years and it obviously delights Billy Fury and late 1950s/early 1960s music fans year after year all over the country.  That is perhaps part of the problem to me, for the show as it is looking a bit dated production-wise.  The show is what it is, a good and very respectful tribute (mostly by old friends) to Billy Fury and his music and targeting an audience that remembers both.  The question for me is where do we take it from here? How do we get a completely new generation of fans to find the man and his music?  Perhaps that is not the direction anyone is looking in at the moment, but if it is, then the show is going to have to adapt to a younger audience that is used to a far bigger show and far bigger production values.

The Billy Fury Story to me is still waiting to be told. There is a great recording artist here with a real human interest story, some great songs and it is just waiting for a big musical theatre production to do it.  The Billy Fury story as a "tribute" show is good, but The Billy Fury story with a young cast, great story line and a full stage production would be amazing. 

If you want to find out more about tonight's show and performers go to their website at

http://www.billyfurystory.co.uk/

 

Review by Tom King

 

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