Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven
Orchard Theatre, Dartford, September 22, 2014
When Danny And The Juniors sang ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Is Here To Stay, It Will Never Die’ it was as much in hope as belief, music experts gave it a year, let alone seeing the 50s out, and now as the 60th Anniversary approaches it remains the most popular form of entertainment on the planet, and with tribute shows aplenty, and getting better all the time you have to be great to stand out from the crowd.
‘ROCK’n’ROLL HEAVEN’ at The Orchard Theatre, Dartford, does exactly that, recalling 6 of the eras biggest names authentically it reminded the audience of the huge legacy they left for us to enjoy.
Ricky Nelson (EDWARD HANDOLL) eased us into the evening with ‘Stood Up’, ‘There’ll Never Be Anyone Else But You’, ‘It’s Late’ and ‘Hello Mary Lou’ before making way for Eddie Cochran (JONNY LABEY)upped the pace to maximum with ‘C’mon Everybody’, ‘Twenty Flight Rock’, ‘Cut Across Shorty’ and ‘Somethin’ Else’, he was relentless.
‘Hey Little Girl’ began Del Shannon’s (DAMIEN EDWARDS) set, often overlooked when talking about the greats, most of his biggest hits were featured including ‘Keep Searchin’, ‘Swiss Maid’, ‘Hats Off To Larry’, ‘Little Town Flirt’ and of course, ‘Runaway’.
Handoll re-emerged as Buddy Holly, as good as any I’ve seen, a short dip into the hits ‘Maybe Baby’, ‘It Doesn’t Matter Anymore’, ‘That’ll Be The Day’ included, everyone hitting the right spot.
I was aware of LEE ‘MEMPHIS’ KING by reputation but I’d never seen him before and from the moment he stood, back to the audience for the start of the ’68 Special’ he delivered everything faultlessly, Elvis Presley was back in the building, the medley’s were performed to perfection, every movement, twitch, shake, plead and smile, exactly as seen on TV, ‘If I Can Dream’ the King at his best closed his brief set.
After the break Eddie returned with ‘Summertime Blues’, ‘Hallelujah I Love Her So’, and ‘Three Steps To Heaven’, Buddy was back ‘Raining In My Heart’, ‘Peggy Sue’, ‘Not Fade Away’ and ‘Oh Boy’ within his set, and then it time for The Big O.
Over the past 15 years Edwards has established himself as the UK’s premier Roy Orbison tribute and opening with ‘I Drove All Night’ he maintained his standing throughout, ‘Crying’, ‘California Blue’ and ‘Only The Lonely’ with ‘Running Scared’ being the standout performance, as always.
Elvis in Vegas closed the show with ‘Burning Love’, ‘Suspicious Minds’ and ‘The Wonder Of You’, only Elvis himself has delivered it better. Eddie, Roy and Buddy joined Elvis and began trading hits with each other, ‘Jeanie, Jeanie, Jeanie’, ‘Rave On’, and ‘All Shook Up’ had the audience on their feet, stomping as the beat for ‘Oh Pretty Woman’ started the final number.
There must have been 40 plus hits, sang in their entirety, music was never better than this, and ‘Rock’n’Roll Heaven’ does them justice in every way.
Catch the show in Dartford until Saturday 27, and Eastbourne the following week and leave the venue feeling as good as tonight’s patrons did.
Jim Stewart 2014