The Eva Cassidy Story featuring Zoe Tyler – Churchill Theatre, Bromley 23.09.09

Over The Rainbow (The Eva Cassidy Story)

Zoe Tyler’s stunning performance of “Fields Of Gold” on the BBC Breakfast show the other day was inspirational. Utilising the song to promote the “Over The Rainbow – The Eva Cassidy Story” tour I thought I’d check it out a couple of days later at Bromley in Kent’s renowned Churchill Theatre. Well, the first signs looked promising…a sold out performance and I hadn’t seen an audience so hyped up since I attended the first night of Riverdance in London. I’m sure many turned out on the strength of that TV appearance but then, what else did I expect? I’m not sure really but the first part of the show relied heavily on a rather ragged bunch of musicians whose playing didn’t appear up to much. Without wishing to sound churlish, there’s no need for out of tune (something a good guitar technician could sort in a couple of minutes), badly picked acoustic guitars on whic h a majority of the show relies. This coupled with a heavy dose of American schmaltz (think perhaps a bad episode of The Walton’s or a cringe worthy “now picture this” by Canada’s Rankin Family) didn’t inspire the restless, sighing throng although none of the vocalists could be faulted. Along with an ever changing, indistinct and clichéd projected background this didn’t bode well for the second act. The contrived audience participation of laughing at lame jokes about Wild World and clapping along with the songs which quickly faded merely acted as an unwanted distraction…then again it shouldn’t take some jumped up hack to point this out to the producer who should realise this on a trial run of the show. As most of Eva’s major hits in the UK including “Songbird”, “Fields Of Gold” and the title song were used in the first act the actual performance highlights came from the more raunchy Blues Alley set and the truly tear inducing finale. I’m really sorry that I couldn’t have given a more positive review as Ms Tyler has a truly exceptional voice…surely blessed by God (!) and I can’t help thinking that with a bit more thought (maybe opening with a recording of Terry Wogan first playing Cassidy on his radio show) and the producer gearing things to British audiences including a quality ‘house band’ (not something you’d expect to see at a Warner’s Holiday country music show) this wo uld have ended up a tighter, more balanced performance. Footnote: I’ve just been on the writer’s website and discovered that he’s British! – a surprise really as this show is definitely geared to appeal more to an American audience.

PETE FYFE


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