Original review at – http://nativemonster.com/film-and-theatre/theatre/review-blues-brothers-wolves-grand
The Blues Brothers Experience brought out a raucous band of fans of the hit film and it’s rhythm’n’blues standing to the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre last night.
The wildly popular musical comedy film from 1980 was brought back to life in the Black Country, by the band born from the official tribute to the Blues Brothers.
The whole concept started as a sketch on American TV show Saturday Night Live two years earlier, where the late John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd knew they were onto something.
The name still provokes a positive reaction 25 years later and has been done to death as a tribute act, so it’s important to get it right.
And spectators turned up in trademark pork pie hats and shades ready to enjoy themselves, for what turned out to be a riot of a night.
This wasn’t your typical evening at the theatre, with more of a gig feeling although there were actors playing a part.
It was down to Joe Lyndon and Ben Williamson to take on the roles of Jake and Elwood Blues respectively and they did the parts justice.
Speaking in an impeccable American accent – which we seem to struggle pulling off correctly as much as they do ours – they could sing, dance and emulate the personas.
They bounced onto the stage, surveyed the scene and launched into the singalong ‘Everybody Needs Somebody,’ before addressing the audience.
‘They sounded better in Swansea’ joked Elwood before he addressed the film and its roots, refusing to gloss over the sequel ‘Blues Brothers 2000,’ a notorious box office failure.
‘It wasn’t that bad was it?’ he asked Jake. ‘I wouldn’t know’ he replied. ‘I’d been dead for 15 years. Belushi, as mentioned, is sadly no longer with us.
It was back into the music after a quick game of ‘what’s in the box’ and the likes of ‘Sweet Home Chicago’ precluded another segment.
A man of the cloth in ‘the Penguin’ – Sister Mary Stigmata in the film – appears to relay the message that their childhood home is facing closure, unless $5,000 can be found.
‘I’ll be sent to the missions’ he said. ‘I could end up in Dudley’ he went on to chuckles from the crowd, before chasing them away to learn the righteous path.
Our lady lead vocalist, known only as Kathy, reeled off ‘Respect’ and ‘Freedom’ before the visit to Ray’s Music Shop, where the proprietor in a Ray Charles mask played the keyboards.
The first half was finished with numbers like ‘Shake Your Tail Feather’ and ‘Mess Around,’ with finale ‘Soul Man’ ending to rapturous applause.
Reverend Cleophus James – who was James Brown in the movie – emerged during the second half and got us all howling along to ‘Hi De Hi.’
The brother re-emerged and told us all to get onto our feet, where the majority stayed for the rest of the performance. And the tracks were sound.
There was ‘Gimme Some Lovin,’ ‘Dancing In The Street,’ ‘Sweet Soul Music,’ ‘Do You Love Me’ and even ‘Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay.’
There was a birthday boy in the house, as eight-year-old Reece was invited onto stage to have happy birthday sung to him and then hung around to help out with ‘Mustang Sally.’
The end of the film ends with the brothers incarcerated and, indeed, ‘Jailhouse Rock’ took into the encore, where Kathy made us ‘Shout.’
Of course, the Elwood impersonators re-emerged to do what they started out with, ‘Everybody Needs Somebody.’ And then they scarpered. As a tribute, you couldn’t go wrong.
By Craig Birch