Afternoon showcase sessions always take a little while to warm up, but here, with impressionist Christopher Gee as compere, an air of light entertainment bonhomie was soon in evidence. Solid vocalists are a good way to start a show, and Jodie Payne is certainly that, including some sure-fire audience pleasers. Her inter-song banter was also effective, something not all female artists know how to carry off.
Eighties tribute act Roo McKeller has the advantage of sporting an unusual instrument in the form of his hybrid keyboard/guitar. But his set was dragged down by a laboured version of Mike and The Mechanics’ The Living Years – a song which left you thinking that surely the 1980s were more fun than this. They were, as his better finale, Philip Oakey’s Electric Dreams, proved.
Most people attending showcases over the years would have seen female vocalist Sunny Daye in one of her various stage personas. This time, appearing as one half of DV8 – the other being partner Keith Tallis – she not only showed her vocal dexterity, but some neat footwork on the dance floor.
Cornwall-based, male vocal duo, Night Shift, didn’t seem to be enjoying their showcase experience much. It must be hard to be bubbly and over-ecstatic on a Wednesday afternoon in front of a limited audience, and despite some decent covers of The Hollies and The Righteous Brothers, this looked like a day at the office for them.
Petite and charismatic female singer, Holly Cosgrove, is one of those artists who interest you from the moment she comes on. Maybe Lady Gaga’s Poker Face wasn’t the best choice as an opener for her, but she’s got a fine voice, real stage presence, and a sense of the theatrical about her.
Sometimes, you get an unexpected treat at a showcase. In this instance, the appearance of Edison Lighthouse, a band which found fame back in the 70s with number one hit, Love Grows. Watching original founder member, Dave Taylor, rolling back the years on the Beverley Parks stage, joined by Bob Hickmott, was a real treat, and with some 70 dates lined up for 2011, many more people are set to enjoy them.
Keyboard vocalists, like Jan James, don’t have the luxury of being able to get too over-excited, given their choice of instrument. They always tend to suffer in comparison at showcases as a consequence. But James, a performer with some 30 years’ experience, clearly has a wide repertoire, and a totally unflappable aura about her.
Described as a ‘tribute with a twist,’ male vocalist Pink Sinatra (aka Peter Scott Powell), never really looked at home at this venue, and in front of this mature audience. Apart from wearing a shocking pink suit and hat, I didn’t see much difference from any other Sinatra tribute, but then again I didn’t see his recent Edinburgh Fringe show, which was apparently acclaimed by audiences and press alike. Paignton, I suspect, isn’t ready for him quite yet.
Any duo that performs Billy Idol’s White Wedding gets my vote, and Rox did the number proud. A great male guitarist, plus strong female vocalist, proved an impressive combination, and, even judging them just on this brief outing, they sounded a cut above many duos.
Final act of the session, the four-piece function band Time Machine, performed a hugely varied set, covering everything from The Eurythmics through to The Monkees. A common ailment among such groups is medley-itis though, when the numbers blur into one, and that did detract from the enjoyment. That aside, this was the kind of rousing finale an afternoon showcase needs.
Never easy for artists, this was an interesting enough lunchtime showcase, if in truth, with few real stand-out moments. One came when Edison Lighthouse performed Love Grows, while female singer Cosgrove was certainly interesting. Star of the session though was compere Christopher Gee, an outstanding and original impressionist in his own right who simply stole the show with his often very funny takes on famous characters. A great individual performance.
Beverley Parks, Paignton, Devon , Wednesday November 24, 2010
- Afternoon session (two of three)
- Stage management
- Steve Conroy and team.
- Sound and lighting
- ESW Solutions
- Artists appearing
- Christopher Gee; Jodie Payne; Roo McKeller; DV8; Night Shift; Holly Cosgrove; Edison Lighthouse; Jan James; Pink Sinatra; Rox; Time Machine
- Running time
- 2hrs 30min