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Trevor George Entertainments Major Live Event session 2 review at Beverley Parks Paignton

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It’s not often that afternoon showcase sessions are packed, but then again few midday events offer such a generous, complementary buffet. Plus there was also, of course, the tasty attraction of a varied bill covering all light entertainment options.

Using a surname like Chaplin gives you an awful lot to live up to, fledgling comedian, Bournemouth-based Duncan Chaplin being the fresh-faced and clearly nervous compere for the afternoon session. He did struggle at times and looked increasingly rattled as many of his jokes failed to get laughs, but he kept going and, to his credit, he kept a smile of his face even if that was maybe through gritted teeth at times.

Getting any afternoon showcase audience to clap along with any real enthusiasm is no mean feat, but vocalist Lindsey Collard clearly has no intention of letting those watching her lively set just sit back without joining in. Expecting the Beverley Parks crowd to join her in some air guitar moves was a tad over-ambitious though, but at least she tried hard to whip up some energy during what was a raucous, entertainingly and lively set. She also performs a tribute to Karen Carpenter, so Collard can clearly tone it down a bit too when she needs to.

Most in the industry will know vocalist Ruby Washington, and those who don’t, should. She’s always been a class act, appearing here with Simon Woods-Tucker on keyboards to make up funky duo, Superstition. It’s a combination that works very well, Washington bashing a tambourine with gusto at one point and clearly still loving the experience of singing some fine covers on stage and having performed over many years in very different guises. Her unflagging enthusiasm and total professionalism is fabulous to see.

The description ‘function band’ really should be banned from use on acts’ publicity. It certainly does groups like Funkty Dumpty no favours, conjuring up images of staid, elderly musicians wearing bow ties and drab formal attire. But, this band’s six-strong line-up here performed as good a showcase set I’ve seen for a long time from a so-called function outfit. The two lead female vocalists are top drawer, the musicians edgy and the spin they manage to put on really old numbers, like Proud Mary, is a lesson for other bands on the circuit.

You sense that Madonna tributes have been slipping out of vogue a little lately, but if there is an act to keep the Madge tribute flag flying, it has to be Tasha Leaper, being as good as any booker will currently find on the circuit. Appearance wise, she’s a dead ringer, the voice accurate and her sense of showmanship and standard of presentation first class. Joined by two, young and enthusiastic female dancers, this set which included Get Into The Groove and Like A Prayer, was executed almost to perfection. Leaper has clearly worked extremely hard over the years at getting this tribute right, and that effort has really paid off.

I’m not sure if the company is sponsoring Mr Eerius‘s illusion and magic act, but if it isn’t, then Coca-Cola is certainly missing a trick or four. Not just the soundtrack mentioned the brand several times, but there was plenty of product placement too. This being a magic routine though, the bottles conjured out of thin air by this top illusionist took on increasingly baffling proportions. When I last saw this act, I loved its energy, style and originality, and nothing has changed. He really is the real thing.

Every showcase needs something a little different musically, and the Celine Dos Santos Band definitely offers that. One female guitarist (Celine), a female vocalist and a flat cap-wearing beat box beating male sandwiched in-between makes for an intriguing, original sound. The harmonies didn’t gel that well at times, but given a young, trendy venue to entertain in, audiences will love their individual approach.

Being near to Christmas, it’s only natural to bring out the Olly (Murs) – in the lively shape of Karl Lewis as Almost Olly. Murs tribute acts are suddenly everywhere on the circuit, probably because all acts need to do is to put on a slightly silly hat, some braces and adopt a cheeky chappy persona on stage and you’re away. To be fair, there’s more than that to Lewis’s act, not least a decent voice and good audience interaction, but it still feels just a bit cobbled together and a tribute without that much substance.

A more intense tribute band than The Darkside of Pink Floyd it is hard to imagine. Probably much better suited to a slot in the evening session, this was nevertheless an intriguing set from some fine musicians not afraid to tackle some of the iconic band’s harder tunes to replicate with any authenticity, like the epic Shine On You Crazy Diamond. Pink Floyd fans do not suffer poor tribute bands gladly, but for any bookers this act is Money well spent.

Less intriguing, but a decent example of a very competent, versatile male vocalist is Matthew Shaw, an artist capable of covering a wide range of musical genres – his only problem is stamping his own identity on the material, something I felt he didn’t really achieve here.

Most showcase sessions finish with a loud, full-on band, and when initially Plymouth-based male/female duo Crush didn’t sound anything out of the ordinary, it looked as though the afternoon was going out on a whimper. But, first impressions can mislead and this was to prove a rattling good set, powered along with strong female vocals (Kerry Harper) and impressive guitar playing from Nick Jones. Duos so often disappoint, Crush certainly doesn’t.

This was an interesting, mixed bag of a session, but featuring a few acts that would have probably much preferred an evening billing. Beforehand, you wouldn’t have predicted getting too excited by a function band and a Madonna tribute act. But, Funkty Dumpty and Tasha Leaper respectively were both on top form. As was Ruby Washington, one half of Superstition. That was no surprise, as at previous showcases, Ruby has always been a diamond.

Read Derek Smith’s review of session 3

Read Derek Smith’s review of session 1

Trevor George Entertainment website

Production Information

Beverley Parks, Paignton, November 20

Running time
Savvy, Duncan Chaplin, Lindsey Collard, Superstition, Funkty Dumpty, Tasha Leaper as Madonna, Mr Eerius, Celine Dos Santos Band, Karl Lewis – Almost Olly, The Darkside of Pink Floyd, Matthew Shaw, Crush

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