13 March 2015
Reviewed by Katy Nettleton
Since they started out in 1978 as a musical sketch on US TV show Saturday Night Live, the Blues Brothers have become a worldwide phenomenon. With a studio album and major Hollywood film, the band took on a life of their own beyond the confines of television.
The Blues Brothers Experience recreates the iconic performances of Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi. Along with a ten-piece band and featuring songs from the movie soundtrack, this concert performance is an electrifying soul music experience.
When I got asked if I fancied going to see The Blues Brothers Experience, I jumped at the chance: not because I love their music, or knew too much about them (the original Blues Brothers) but that I love new experiences and trying something different! So I found myself on a Friday night in Buxton – the Buxton Opera House is central to the town, and parking outside (£2.50 for 4 hours): although I would say for those who are using satnav, once in the town follow the signs to the Pavilion Gardens, and then find the square as the Opera House is central but due to the one way system I ended up getting a little bit lost and it was kind stranger who told me to follow these signs! Anyhow, once I arrived at the venue I was stunned, the architecture and maintenance of the building makes you feel that you are going somewhere regal (and proud to go to), the staff were very helpful and escorted me to my seat.
Once I sat you could see the set, and there was screen show on the background of the stage which brought me up to date on what I should expect from The Blues Brothers Experience, once it started all I can say is it was brilliant, captivating and got everyone up dancing or singing along. Before I got there I didn’t think I would know the music, but I knew all the songs which included the best material from the Blues Brothers movies (I am told), blues, funk, a bit of soul, motown and country (and western!). The audience were dancing in the isles and fully participating in the show; which encouraged audience participation and good humour along with the delivery a practiced monologues. This resulted in a member of the audience (Kimberly) getting up to get involved and sing along – however, to the surprise of the band she could sing and was enjoying joining in! This again, was supported by a diverse audience (in terms of age) and brought the show alive.
The band which plays brass instruments, as well as guitars, keyboard and a harmonica was exceptional and was just pitched at the right volume level for me (you could hear yourself think but not the person next to you sing!). The singers were also very accomplished and although the staging was very minimalist (as you would expect from smaller productions) with 2 “pop up banners” and a “stolen” screen, it did not distract you from the production in terms of singing and musicality.
As I said, I was not really sure what to expect but in the end had an amazing night, I got carried away singing (and now have a sore throat as a result), and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I came back home to look at the listings for the show, to see if there are any more local that I could take my husband to, as he would love it due to the eclectic music choices and the script being hilarious! As well as the singers bringing goose pimples to my arms with their singing and the way in which they engaged the audience.
I would highly recommend The Blues Brothers Experience, and Buxton Opera House. I have also signed up for their newsletter so that I can see what other “shows” are coming up, as I loved the venue (the staff, the facilities and the architecture all supported the atmosphere created).
The show last nearly 2.5 hours with a 20 minute interval allowing for that all important ice-cream and drink stop!
The Blues Brothers Experience are currently touring and their next stops are The Lichfield Garrick Theatre in Lichfield, Staffordshire on 27 March followed by The Astor Theatre in Deal, Kent on 28 March. For more information visit www.bbeshow.co.uk.
Buxton Opera House, Water Street, Buxton, Derbyshire, SK17 6XN | 0845 127 2190