with the ever-familar chord progression of
Often tribute acts can feel stale, lack direction or struggle for a good storyline, but tonight’s performance and tribute to Ben E King and the Drifters worked seamlessly.
The first half of the night brought with it a lot of sound difficulties, which hindered the experience and performance of a few earlier numbers, and meant the show got off to a shaky start. However, the cast—in particular Davinia Thomas—dealt with the difficulties excellently, and should be commended for their persistence and professionalism in doing so.
The Drifters, led by Michael Williams, had wonderful chemistry; their smiles were infectious, and rhythm contagious, as they led us through classics from Under the Boardwalk, to Save the Last Dance for Me. The quartet bubbled with enthusiasm and had the audience entranced from the first number to the last. Getting the entire Playhouse on their feet and dancing more than once is certainly an impressive feat!
The simplicity of the staging truly exposed the real talent amongst the cast, but the true stars of the entire night were the band; and in particular the saxophonist Toby Stewart. Every single rift and note was hit with ease and the flirtation between Stewart and the Drifters was real “hairs-standing-up”, spine-tingling rock and roll soul. The relationship between the musicians allowed individuals talents to shine, and took the performance from a band “playing several big hits” to a band “giving you the real rock and roll Motown experience.”
Often tribute acts can feel stale, lack direction or struggle for a good storyline, but tonight’s performance and tribute to Ben E King and the Drifters worked seamlessly. There was enough of a story to be told in the rise of the black music movement in America and the success of the band themselves to give the setlist relevance and trajectory. Whilst interlacing the many familiar and popular hits by the Drifters, with other numbers from the era from the likes of Diana Ross, the Beatles and the Beach Boys, gave the show enough variety and edge to keep this tribute performance exciting and fresh.