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I Can Hear Them Singers...

We can all get a little carried away the morning after a great night out. In December 2017 I was urged to come along a see a Duran tribute act Joanne Joanne. Despite being told they were “the best one” the bar was hardly set very high. The subsequent show made me get all effusive and gurgly about the brilliance of the concept, set-list and all-round joy of the performance. I was definitely going to go again.

What I did not expect was that the next time would involve seeing the new concept of a rotating series of ‘guest singers’ (i.e. us from the audience) having a go at a song each. Hmm. Well, at least the show was at a pub.

To cut to the chase – this review of Joanne Joanne’s “Kar-RIO-ke” night is about to get all effusive and gurgly again.

I suppose any night which features Anyone Out There, Last Chance on the Stairway, Late Bar, Sound of Thunder and Shadows on Your Side amongst about 20 songs played has a pretty high chance of being special. The setlist (as ever from the first three albums) meant that there was a genuine thrill in having no idea what was coming next. And you gave yourself a hug inside as you also knew that whatever it was, it was going to be great.

The greatness came from the band, who were gloriously bringing these songs back alive from deep-storage, and our ‘guest le Bons’. Your editor has to confess he was not one of them, rather daunted by the prospect and unsure of what to expect. The fool. It was all brilliant. The problem for most the singers was the increasingly high mark set by each vocalist that went before.

It all started – of course! – with Planet Earth and our first singer who breezed into the chorus and had us willing her on. This set the tone for the night as that gap between band and stage disappeared.

Being close to the stage, it was a wonderful sight to see each star leave the stage somewhat struck into a stunned silence by what they had achieved. Some used their lyric sheet as a helpful aid memoir (who wouldn’t?), some had the confidence to not only act the songs to life but knew every word as if they were reciting their ABC (easier said than done, even with 35+ years of practice).

With the danger of suggesting some were better than others, a few require specific mention. There were the three acts who ‘doubled up’ on singers – Union of the Snake, a rousing finale of Girls on Film, and The Reflex with a late entrance by a ‘backing singer’ who rather stole the show. The aforementioned album tracks of Anyone Out There, …Stairway plus Hold Back the Rain, Friends of Mine and Sound of Thunder were a thrill to hear and sing along to. Is There Something I Should Know started with a drumming thud that left our singer looking a little shaken, but who then hit the ground with the first verse and never looked back. The New Moon on Monday vocalist sang in a slightly different key to the one we are used to, and halfway through I was joining her. And, finally, the wow factor within the audience knocked the clapometer off the scale with the performances of Careless Memories and New Religion. Sorry if you were on stage and not mentioned. The whole show and every act made up the completeness of the evening.

The band were rightly lauded by several singers, my favourite being from the …Stairway singer who said “It sounds like damning with faint praise to say they are the best tribute band.” How true. This gurgling will now stop, until next year, at least.

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