George Thorogood’s Good To Be Bad tour is looking good for York Barbican in July

George Thorogood: Good To Be Bad tour date at York Barbican

GEORGE Thorogood & The Destroyers will play York Barbican on July 22 on their Good To Be Bad: 45 Years Of Rock tour, their first in more than seven years.

“Ever since our first shows there in 1978, the UK has been one of our favourite places to play,” says boogie-blues guitarist Thorogood, from Wilmington, Delaware, who will turn 70 on February 24.

“We’re talking great venues, great energy and truly great audiences, and we’re looking forward to coming back for it all. Expect our best, because that’s what you’re gonna get.”

Since 1975, Thorogood & The Destroyers have sold more than 15 million albums and played more than 8,000 ferocious live shows, built around Who Do You Love, I Drink Alone, One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer, Move It On Over and his definitive badass anthem, Bad To The Bone.

“To hear George Thorogood flail his slide up and down his guitar,” wrote Greil Marcus in Rolling Stone magazine, “you might have thought he was Ben Franklin – that he’d discovered not the blues, but electricity.” 

In the Destroyers’ line-up alongside Thorogood will be Jeff Simon on percussion, Bill Blough on bass, Jim Suhler on guitar and Buddy Leach on saxophone.”

Tickets can be booked from Friday (February 21) at 10am on 0203 356 5441, at yorkbarbican.co.uk or in person from the Barbican box office.

Alfie Boe to climax Armed Forces Day with Scarborough Open Air Theatre concert

Alfie Boe: performing at Scarborough Open Air Theatre for a fourth time

CHART-TOPPING tenor Alfie Boe will bring Armed Forces Day to a climax on June 27 with a 6pm concert at Scarborough Open Air Theatre.

The East Coast resort has the honour of hosting this year’s Armed Forces Day National Event that day.

Around 200,000 people, including members of the Royal Family and prominent politicians, are expected to head to Scarborough for a series of events to honour the dedication and sacrifice of the nation’s servicemen and women.

Boe says: “It is an amazing honour, as well as a huge thrill, for me to be back at this wonderful venue to perform on Armed Forces Day.

“I’ve played there many times and I’ve always received such a warm welcome from the good people of Yorkshire. The fact I will be performing as part of Scarborough’s hosting of Armed Forces Day’s National Event will make it even more special. I cannot wait for June 27; it will be an amazing evening.”

Mezzo-soprano Laura Wright, who has performed at major events around the world, will be among those to join Boe on stage.

Boe, who has starred in stellar productions of Les Misérables and La Bohème, will be appearing at Scarborough OAT for the fourth time. He headlined Armed Forces Day concerts there in 2015 and 2018 and performed alongside his friend and collaborator in song, Michael Ball, in 2017.

He and Ball will next sing in Yorkshire at Leeds First Direct Arena on February 25. On his return in June, he will combine familiar favourites with selections from last November’s celebration of songs of the 1930s and 1940s, As Time Goes By, his first solo record since 2015.

Mezzo-soprano Laura Wright: joining Alfie Boe at the Armed Forces Day concert

Recorded with Grammy award winner Gordon Goodwin and his Big Phat Band, the album journeyed through the defining songs of that golden era, from the full force of Sing Sing Sing to the smooth The Way You Look Tonight and title track.

Laura Wright, who topped the classical album chart with her debut, The Last Rose, is writing and recording her seventh album. At 24, she composed the Invictus Games anthem, Invincible, for Prince Harry and two years later wrote Heroes, the first official anthem for England Women’s Cricket, and then Brave for the Military Wives.

She became the first ever official singer of the England Rugby Union team and has sung at the Rugby Union World Cup, the NFL series, the Grand National at Aintree, Royal Ascot and the FA Cup Final. 

Looking forward to presenting Boe on June 27, Peter Taylor, director of Scarborough OAT concert promoters Cuffe and Taylor, says: “Alfie is massively popular and is someone we are asked to bring back every year, so we are delighted to be welcoming him back to Scarborough OAT this summer.

“June 27 will be an extra-special night as the nation’s focus will be on Scarborough. It is such an honour to host the Armed Forces Day National Event and so we really could not think of anyone better to headline this concert than Alfie, who will be joined by the wonderful Laura Wright.

“It will undoubtedly be an incredibly moving and special concert and, we feel, the perfect climax to a day that celebrates the dedication and sacrifice of our Armed Forces.”

Stuart Clark, Scarborough OAT venue manager and event manager for the Armed Forces Day National Event, says: “Alfie Boe is a firm favourite here and we are delighted to welcome him back in 2020. His show will be a highlight of the prestigious Armed Forces Day National Event in Scarborough and a wonderful musical celebration dedicated to our Armed Forces.”

Tickets will go on general sale on Friday (February 21) at 9am at scarboroughopenairtheatre.com; on 01723 818111 and 01723 383636, or in person from the Scarborough OAT box office, in Burniston Road, or the Discover Yorkshire Coast Tourism Bureau, at Scarborough Town Hall, St Nicholas Street.

For more information and a full list of Armed Forces Day 2020 events in Scarborough, go to scarborougharmedforcesday.co.uk.

Alfie Boe: lighting up Scarborough Open Air Theatre on June 27

SCARBOROUGH OPEN AIR THEATRE’s 2020 LINE-UP

Tuesday, June 9, Lionel Richie

Wednesday, June 17, Westlife

Saturday, June 20, Supergrass

Saturday, June 27, Alfie Boe 

Saturday, July 4,Snow Patrol

Friday, July 10,Mixtape, starring Marc Almond, Heaven 17 and Living In A Box featuring Kenny Thomas

Friday, July 17, Keane

Tuesday, July 21,  Little Mix

Friday, August 14,McFly

Saturday, August 15, Louis Tomlinson

More artists are to be announced.

REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on Albany Piano Trio at the Lyons, York, 14/2/2020

The Albany Piano Trio

REVIEW: Albany Piano Trio, British Music Society of York, Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York, February 14 ***

GHOSTS are not generally associated with St Valentine’s Day, but orchids certainly could be. We had both in the Albany Piano Trio’s outing for the British Music Society of York, with the headily perfumed trio by Ravel and some romantic seasoning by Bloch thrown in for good measure.

The “Ghost” arrived courtesy of Beethoven’s Trio, Op 70 No 1, whose nickname it is (though conferred by Czerny, not by the composer). There was plenty of violence, as there should be, in the opening movement. But the players seemed to be ploughing their own furrows and ensemble was not always as exact as it might have been.

It was just as well that Philippa Harrison kept her piano lid on the short stick rather than wide open: she was in forceful mood all evening. Indeed, she was regularly more characterful than her colleagues, who laboured very competently but with intermittent ardour. But all three found the requisite ferocity for the coda.

The unnerving variations of the eerie slow movement were a little apologetic. Beethoven does not hold back here, neither should performers. But its demons were revived in the finale, thanks to the piano’s strong accents. They were finally driven out by high cello and low violin – after some skeletal pizzicatos – as the composer’s sardonic humour turned friendly at the close.

Victorian “orchidelirium” – a mania for discovering and collecting orchids – inspired Judith Bingham’s The Orchid And Its Hunters, an Albany commission that the trio premiered in 2016. Its five brief sections are vignettes evoking dangerous journeys to garner these exotic flowers from remote locations worldwide.

Their diffuse colourings suggested impressionistic water-colours rather than full-blown oils. They became gradually brisker as wide intervals and splashy piano chords became smoother and, eventually, more urgent, as if the flowers were under threat. The Albany were surefooted throughout, taking the changes in their stride.

Swiss by birth, Bloch wrote his only work for piano trio in 1924, the year he became an American citizen. His Three Nocturnes proved rather engaging, largely romantic and lyrical, though the percussive syncopation of the last one hinted at modernity.

The first movement of Ravel’s Piano Trio was the Albany’s best moment, its jumpy rhythms clean and its acceleration finely calibrated. Pantoum, which follows, became a volatile, piano-drive harlequinade, sharply contrasted with the chorale-like Passacaille. Vigorous piano in the finale suggested fountains spraying wildly in a gusty wind. This was all but a full-blown piano concerto.

The Albany did enough to show that they are capable of considerable finesse. Not enough of it was on show here, however. And they would be well advised to let their fingers do the talking in place of under-prepared, under-projected spoken intros. The Lyons is not a good place for speech.   

Review by Martin Dreyer                                                               

REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on York Guildhall Orchestra’s 40th Anniversary

Cellist Jamie Walton: “skill of a practised magician”. Picture: Wolf Marloh

REVIEW: York Guildhall Orchestra, 40th Anniversary Concert, York Barbican, February 15 *****

HAD I not been there myself, I would have hardly believed that the Guildhall Orchestra (as it was then known and is still popularly described) first saw the light of day 40 years ago.

It has been a marvellous four decades. And still there is a sense of excited anticipation before its every performance. We know we are in for something special.

Saturday’s celebration, conducted by Simon Wright, was no exception. A Ravel suite, an Elgar concerto and a Brahms symphony were leavened by a birthday cake of Celebratory Fantasy Variations baked by the founder himself, John Hastie.

His tasty pastiche wove myriad musical allusions – including Bach, Mozart, Brahms, Ravel, Vaughan Williams, Britten, even a samba – into variations on Happy Birthda’. As the piece finished, the audience even got to join in with the song’s last line (wisely, after a rehearsal). Good fun.

Ravel’s Mother Goose featured on the opening night in 1980. Here it was again in all its gentle finery, giving us a chance to admire again the nicely controlled talents of the woodwinds: sinuous oboe for Tom Thumb’s walk, for example, and clarinet and contrabassoon representing Beauty and the Beast, not forgetting nifty xylophone (Janet Fulton) and rippling harp (Georgina Wells).

We are fortunate indeed to have a cellist of international standing living right on the edge of the North York Moors. Jamie Walton must have played Elgar’s concerto countless times, but surely never as spellbindingly as this.

He achieved his intensity, paradoxically, through subtle understatement, drawing in his audience with the skill of a practised magician. The opening was steeped in a very English melancholy. The jagged figure at the start of the Allegro spoke volumes about the scherzo to come and Walton’s clarity at the top of his range was startling.

The slow movement was beautifully, mouth-wateringly, spacious. Every rest was made to count, delicately caressed. This kind of playing is risky: it can easily backfire. Not here. Walton was exactly on Elgar’s wavelength, finding solace in an elegant cantilena.

Fireworks, such as they were, came in the finale, but nostalgia was never far from the surface, not least when the work’s opening motto was rekindled just before the close. All the while, the orchestra kept in very crisp attendance, typified by the brass interjections in the finale. I have heard this work dozens of times, but was never quite persuaded of its logic. Until now. The conjunction of two such intelligent musicians as Simon Wright and Jamie Walton delivered an intricate precision that is extremely rare. It will live in the memory.

Inevitably, perhaps, Brahms’s Second Symphony was not going to reach quite this level. But it brought catharsis of a kind, while showcasing the orchestra’s three choirs: strings, winds and brass. Violin ensemble in the first movement had a wonderful sweep, conjuring pastoral moods; they were enhanced by Jonny Hunter’s solo horn. The cumulative effect of this huge movement was majestic. Not to be outdone the cellos, who are in equally fine fettle, took centre stage in an introspective Adagio.

The paint-box of the orchestra, the woodwinds, enjoyed their moment in the spotlight in the Allegretto, sparkling into a sunlit momentum and recapturing it again at the finish after several distractions. Showing admirable stamina, the whole orchestra combined for a finale of exuberant brilliance, reaching a peak when the trombones returned in the coda.

This orchestra is one of the treasures that makes living in York such a delight. Roll on its half century!

Review by Martin Dreyer

Romeo, Romeo, wherefore Stod-art thou playing solo tomorrow night in York?

Romeo Stodart

ROMEO Stodart, lead singer and principal songwriter for The Magic Numbers, will play as a one-man band at The Basement, City Screen, York, tomorrow night (February 17).

“I’ve decided to do a few solo shows mainly because I’ve never done them before, so it’ll be a very different and new experience for me,” says Romeo, 43.

“I’ve got so many pieces of music that haven’t yet found a home, as they’re not necessarily Magic Numbers songs, and I think it’d be a great opportunity to play them and bring them to life in front of people.”

Romeo wants his solo gigs to be unique, liberating, intimate and engaging. “I need you to be there for them with an open mind and open heart,” he says. “There’s nothing to fear as our band is forever, but I’m really excited by these dates. Hope you are too.

You can hear what some of our songs sound like in the way that they were first conceived or a new interpretation, but the main emphasis will be on the new and the journey of the night.”

Formed in Ealing in 2002, The Magic Numbers have five albums to their name: 2005’s million-selling, Mercury Music Prize-nominated, self-titled debut; 2006’s Those The Brokes; 2010’s The Runaway, 2014’s Alias and 2018’s Outsiders.

Making up the Numbers are two pairs of brothers and sisters: Sean and Angela Gannon and Romeo and Michele Stodart, who were born to Scottish father and Portuguese mother on the Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago, where their mother was an opera singer with her own TV show.

Tomorrow’s 8pm concert is presented by York promoters Under The Influence; tickets for An Evening With Romeo Stodart cost £14 on 0871 902 5726, at thebasementyork.co.uk/romeo-stodart or on the door.

REVIEW: York Light’s 60th anniversary Oliver! at York Theatre Royal

Food Glorious Food: the Young People’s Ensemble give it plenty in Oliver!. All pictures: Tom Arber

REVIEW: Oliver!, York Light Opera Company, York Theatre Royal, until February 22. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk

DAME Berwick Kaler’s 41 years at York Theatre Royal have come to an end, but one company with an even longer run there is still rolling out the productions after 60 years.

York Light have chosen to mark another 60th anniversary by staging Lionel Bart’s Oliver!, first performed in the West End in 1960.

This latest revival of a perennial favourite utilises David Merrick and Donald Albert’s Broadway stage version, here directed and choreographed by Martyn Knight on an expansive set with walkways, bustling London streets, the drab workhouse, smart townhouse and the underworld of Fagin’s dingy den.

The show opens with a death outside the workhouse, and the dead woman being promptly stripped of her necklace by an older woman: welcome to dark Dickensian London.

Rory Mulvihill’s Fagin and Jonny Holbek’s Bill Sikes in York Light’s Oliver!

Once inside, Food Glorious Food bursts into life, the first of so many familiar Lionel Bart songs, choreography well drilled, the young people’s ensemble lapping up their first big moment (even if their bowls are empty already!).

The directorial polish in Hunter’s show is established immediately; likewise, the playing of John Atkin’s orchestra is rich and in turn warm and dramatic. These will be the cornerstones throughout in a show so heavy on songs, with bursts of dialogue in between that sometimes do not catch fire by comparison with the fantastic singing.

This review was of the first night, leaving time aplenty for the acting to raise to the level of the songs, but there really does need to be more drama, for example, from all the adults in Oliver and Dodger’s pickpocketing scene. Likewise, spoiler alert, Nancy’s death scene fails to shock, although Jonny Holbek elsewhere has the menace in voice and demeanour for Bill Sikes. Even his dog Bullseye looks scared of him.

Playing the nefarious Fagin for a second time, with a stoop, straggly hair and wispy beard, stalwart Rory Mulvihill has both the twinkle in his eye and the awareness of the fading of the light, characteristics he brings to the contrasting ensemble numbers You’ve Got To Pick A Pocket Or Two and Be Back Soon and the reflective, sombre solo Reviewing The Situation.

Jonathan Wells’s Mr Sowerberry and Annabel Van Griethuysen’s Mrs Sowerberry with Matthew Warry’s Oliver (alternating the role with Alex Edmondson)

Overall, the company could take a lead from Neil Wood’s Mr Bumble and Pascha Turnbull’s Widow Twankey in their hanky-panky I Shall Scream scene, full of humour, sauce and pleasing characterisation.

Alex Edmondson’s truculent Oliver and Jack Hambleton’s chipper Dodger bond well, especially in Consider Yourself; Jonathan Wells’s Mr Sowerberry and Annabel Van Griethuysen’s Mrs Sowerberry are in fine voice. Her singing is even better, creamier you might say, for the Milkmaid, when joined by Sarah Craggs’s Rose Seller, Helen Eckersall’s Strawberry Seller, Richard Bayton’s Knife Grinder and Edmondson’s Oliver for Who Will Buy?, always beautiful and deeply so here.

Emma Louise Dickinson’s Nancy gives Act Two opener Oom-Pah-Pah plenty of oomph, and although As Long As He Needs Me sits uncomfortably on modern ears with its seeming tolerance of domestic abuse, she gives that bruised ballad everything twice over.

Reviewing the present situation, the singing is strong, moving and fun when it should be, but, please sir, your reviewer wants some more from the non-singing scenes, and then he might be back soon.

Charles Hutchinson

English Touring Opera to perform three operas in two days at York Theatre Royal

Hail Caesar: English Touring Opera are bringing Giulio Cesare to York Theatre Royal in early April. Picture: Oliver Rosser

ENGLISH Touring Opera will be performing in both the main house and Studio on their return to York Theatre Royal this spring.

Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte will be staged on April 3 and Handel’s Giulio Cesare (Julius Caesar) on April 4, both at 7.30pm, in the bigger space; next door will be The Extraordinary Adventures Of You And Me, for young children, at 11am and 2pm on the Saturday.

Directed by Laura Attridge, conducted by Holly Mathieson and sung in English, Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte is a story of young love and fidelity that combines glorious music and farcical comedy in his  third collaboration with librettist Da Ponte after The Marriage Of Figaro and Don Giovanni.

Giulio Cesare, Handel’s epic opera of passion and revenge, is built on “a treasure trove of great arias with immense dramatic intensity”, set in the wake of Julius Caesar’s conquest of Egypt as his uneasy alliance and romance with fabled Egyptian queen Cleopatra unfurls.

Sung in Italian with English surtitles, ETO’s touring show is an adapted revival of their 2017 production, led by artistic director James Conway and conductorJonathan Peter Kenny, who will lead the Old Street Band. Both ETO’s April 3 and 4 performances will be preceded by a 6.30pm pre-show talk.

The Extraordinary Adventures Of You And Me is the latest instalment of fun, engaging and interactive operas for children and young audiences, after Laika The Spacedog, Waxwings, Paradise Planet, Shackelton’s Cat and This Is My Bed.

The 11am and 2pm audiences will meet the hero, Mackenzie, as they prepare to travel through time and space.  On a school trip to a museum, Mackenzie discovers that a pencil case is full of magical worlds.  “Who knows who you will meet and where you will visit along the way, so take a deep breath and expect the unexpected” say ETO of a show created by composer Omar Shahryar and writer/director Ruth Mariner.

ETO’s performance is suitable for Key Stage 1 and SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) audiences. The story features five performers, including singers and players, an ingenious set, interactive songs and sound technology and is recommended for two to five-year-old children.

Tickets are on sale on 01904 623568, at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk or in person from the Theatre Royal box office.

Ronan Keating’s Twenty Twenty vision is to release album and play York Barbican

The album artwork for Ronan Keating’s new album, released this spring

TWENTY years since releasing his chart-topping debut solo album, Boyzone’s Ronan Keating will mark the anniversary with a new record and tour, taking in York Barbican on June 19.

That night, the Irish boy band graduate will be promoting an album perfectly entitled for this year, Twenty Twenty, out on May 1 on the Decca Records label.

Tickets go on sale on February 21 at 10am at yorkbarbican.co.uk, on 0203 356 5441 or in person from the Barbican box office.

Dubliner Keating, who will turn 43 on March 3, describes Twenty Twenty as “a greatest hits of brand new music”To help him celebrate the 20th anniversary of his self-titled debut, he made two inspired choices: to dive into his back catalogue torevisit three of his biggest hits and, for some new numbers, call in some friends.

Ronan Keating’s 20th anniversary solo album will be “a greatest hits of brand new music”

First single One Of A Kind, despite its title is a duet, wherein the Irishman is joined by Emeli Sandé. “I guess I’ve been known for those first dance songs at weddings and this has me written all over it,” says Keating. “It’s all about the night before the wedding, the day of the wedding and spending the rest of your life together.”

He decided the song demanded a duet partner, and for Ronan there was only one choice: the Sunderland-born, Scottish-raised Sandé.“I was completely honoured when Emeli said she’d love to do it,” he says. “I was just blown away by her vocal. She’s obviously got a brilliant voice, and she’s a lovely, warm person, so the personality she’s brought to the song is just incredible.”

Two of a kind: the single cover for One Of A Kind replicates Twenty Twenty except for the addition of Emeli Sande

For Twenty Twenty, Keating had production assistance from his longstanding wingman, Steve Lipson, who has worked with such big hitters as Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Annie Lennox, Simple Minds, and Whitney Houston. Names of further collaborators and track titles will be revealed in due course, but Keating teases by revealing those collaborators comprise some of his closest musical and chart-topping friends.

Over the past 20 years, Keating has chalked up 30 consecutive Top Ten solo singles, ten studio albums, multiple tours and 20 million records sales on top of 25 million sold with Boyzone, as well as judging on The X Factor and The Voice in Australia; acting in television drama and film; playing Guy in the romantic Irish hit, Once The Musical, in the West End and co-hosting Magic FM’s breakfast show.

Over the past 12 months, he has worked tirelessly on an album that celebrates a longevity he does not take for granted. “There’s not a lot of artists that have been lucky enough to do 20 years and still be here,” he says, appreciative too of sustaining solo and band careers. “I’m very honoured to have had that, so I wanted to mark it with an album like this.”

Ronan Keating last played a York concert in July 2018 with Boyzone at the York Racecourse Music Showcase Weekend

In York, Keating last performed with Boyzone at a York Racecourse Music Showcase post-racing show on July 28 2018 on their 25th anniversary tour. His last solo appearance in the city was at York Barbican on September 21 2016. Last summer, the dangers posed by a massive thunderstorm led to his open-air solo concert at Castle Howard, near York, on August 4 being cut short.

Violinist Paul Milhau to play relaxed Dementia Friendly Tea Concert at St Chad’s

York violinist Paul Milhau: music, coffee, tea and a chat on a relaxed afternoon

YORK professional violinist Paul Milhau will perform February 20’s Dementia Friendly Tea Concert at St Chad’s Church, Campleshon Road, York.

His 45-minute classical concert of solo violin pieces will be followed by tea, coffee, homemade cakes and a chance to chat.

Milhau’s 2.30pm programme will combine two partitas by J S Bach with Eugène Ysaye’s lovely second sonata in a relaxed atmosphere suitable for anyone who might not feel able to attend a formal classical event.

No admission charge applies but donations are welcome. Please note, there is a small car park at the church, along with street parking on Campleshon Road. Disabled access is via the hall.

Silver lining guaranteed as Jeff Beck announces York Barbican debut in May

Jeff Beck: playing York Barbican for the first time this spring

GUITAR great Jeff Beck will play York Barbican on May 19 on his nine-date British tour.

Tickets for the two-time Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame inductee and serial Grammy Award winner will go on sale on Friday, February 14 at 10am.

Joining blues, rock and jazz guitarist Beck on tour will be Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, Rhonda Smith on bass and Vanessa Freebairn-Smith on cello.  

Beck’s tour will begin on May 17, taking in a second Yorkshire show at Sheffield City Hall on May 23 and climaxing with a London finale at the Royal Albert Hall on May 26 and 27.

Over the course of a career stretching beyond 50 years, Beck has won eight Grammy awards; been ranked by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time and  been inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame, both with The Yardbirds and solo.

Beck replaced Eric Clapton as The Yardbirds’ lead guitarist in 1965, going on to form The Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart on vocals and Ronnie Wood on bass. So much has followed and, now 75, the Wallington-born guitarist is working on new music for release in 2020 on Rhino/Warner Records.

From Friday, tickets for Beck’s York Barbican debut will be available at yorkbarbican.co.uk and myticket.co.uk, on 0203 356 5441 or in person at the Barbican box office. Sheffield tickets:  sheffieldcityhall.co.uk, myticket.co.uk or 0114 278 9789.