Tuesday, 13 October 2009

The Original Bucks Fizz supported by Plasticine Review Eastbourne

The Original Bucks Fizz
with support act
13th October 2009
Eastbourne, Congress Theatre
It's not the first time this year that we've enjoyed the support act more than the main act but yet again it has happened this evening.
Tonights show was a pretty unusual length with the support act on for 30 minutes. A ridiculous 1/2 hour break then Bucks Fizz scheduled to perform for an hour and a half.
I'll get to Bucks Fizz in due course but I want to kick off with some feedback on the group Plasticine.
As support acts go this really should have been a recipe for disaster.
A band who are normally a popular indie group, due to touring with Bucks Fizz, decide that cover versions of huge 80's hits may be better received.
To top that 2 normal members of the group can't take part (their guitar and piano players) Stephen Fox is their usual lead and Matthew Roberts remains on drums but they have had to employ a temporary session singer and keyboard player.
I apologise that I don't have the names of the pretty blond singer/guitarist and the keyboard player who are filling in. They thoroughly deserve a mention so I will try to find this out.
If Stephen hadn't said so you would never have known that he does not normally perform with these people - it certainly didn't show. In fact the harmony between his powerful voice and her gentle yet very clear voice was spot-on.
To tackle legendary 80's hits like the Look Of Love, All Cried Out, Sweet Dreams and Billy Jean is a brave thing for any group to do. To do it when covers are not normally your thing is even more daring.
But Stephen and his mystery blonde companion don't just pull it off - they exceed any expectations you may normally have of support acts (and believe me we've seen many a dud support act).
Stephen's voice has the power to handle the hits and as I said the harmony and rapport with his co-performer is excellent. The drummer and keyboard player showed no signs that they have not played together forever.
The band have written a couple of tracks for Jay Aston's new movie and these were performed along with Butterfly one of their own hits which was also enjoyed .
In fact the only downside to this band was that they were only on for 30 minutes. It is this fact alone that makes this 4 stars not 5.
Well done Plasticine, together with your temporary members, you were the better act without a doubt.4 out of 5 for Plasticine
The Original BUCKS FIZZ
If you want to read one of the most interesting, yet thoroughly confusing, histories of any modern pop group in history nip over to Wikipedia, do a search for Bucks Fizz, and have a read about one of the most bizarre histories in music ever. They have gone through more Band members than many groups which have been around since the 1950's.
Bucks Fizz, The Original Buck's Fizz, David Van Day's Bucks Fizz. Who would have ever thought that 4 such pleasant individuals who did the British impossible and won Eurovision could go on to create one of the most controversial histories of any pop act?
The current Spash Tour by The Original Bucks Fizz (well 3/4 nearly original) does nothing to end the controversy.
It's funny but on the way to this "gig" I mentioned to my wife that the worst thing that could happen tonight would be if they tried to change or "jazz up" the original sound of the hits or do something else to go away from the original, some may say "cheesy", sound of the tracks.
The die-hard fans love this tour - you can find this feedback on official forums. They could have sung nursery rhymes the feedback would still have been good. But delve a bit deeper and you will find others share my view on this show.
I was annoyed even before the show started £8 for a tour brochure for a 12 page brochure. That's at least £3 more than ANY other programme I have bought this year including national musical tours.
So for 66p a page we get
Page 2 and 3 Pictures of old albums and 4 small pictures of the original 4 members.
Page 4 and 5 - One paragraph on each member (Cheryl, Mike, Jay) and a few
old pictures - note that these 3 paragraphs is all you get on Buck's Fizz - it's pathetic
Page 6 and 7 - a few pictures of the current trio
Page 8 - A totally wasted page which just lists a few tracks from the show - pointless.
Page 9 - All about the band members, dancers and support act - the hilarious part here is that they have more written information than the Bucks Fizz trio.
Page 10 Another trio pic with the other 1/2 a page being a rather shameless plug for Viviscal the hair restoring product endorsed by Cheryl.
Page 11 Oh yet another full page ad this time plugging the forthcoming CD set
Page 12 (Back Cover) Tour dates
That's it folks £8 for three short paragraphs of information. Unless you are going to get it signed I would advise you to spend your money on something that has some use. As programmes go this is the worst fleecing of the public I have seen. There should be a law against programmes this bad. If I had to name a value for this I'd say £4 tops.
Of course if you've got money to spend the CD's/T-Shirts and the like are also for sale. But you would probably be broke from buying that programme.
Oh well the show has got to be better - after all it is 90 incredible minutes (their words not mine).
Well let's take out the pointless long introduction video which ends making a point that "She's Back!" - I was always brought up to think that a little rude - who's SHE the cat's mother? But we are of course referring to Jay Aston who left Bucks Fizz some 25 years ago but who has now returned. If you look carefully at the video you will also see the occasional seemingly subliminal images of Bobby G who would be required to make up a true Original Bucks Fizz. The video does sort of give you that "It was the 3 of us... oh and that other bloke.. what was his name?" feeling.
From our 90 minutes we should also deduct the time the absolutely pointess dancers (2 girls) undertake their solo routines.
Take off the umpteen costume changes.
Discount the instrumental interludes and we probably have around 75 minutes of music and dialogue.
Still dumbstruck at my £8 "programme" the "singing" starts. My initial fears are realized as Mike, Cheryl and Jay start the show with a Latin style. A cover of Ricky Martin's Livin' La Vida Loca is totally destroyed by unharmonious vocals the only distractions being the girl's ridiculous feather headwear and those dancers who just seem to take up valuable stage space.
The whole show is a mixture of covers and original Buck's Fizz Hits - most of which the group have decided fans would prefer with a more funky beat. If you can't stand the heat was a track I originally liked but Latinized, funked-up and sung out of sync the result was painful on the ears. Do I hear Buck's Fizz earplugs 2 packs for £8? What do you mean you won't trade this programme?
I have noted that many fans have asked what the point of these dancers is? I have come to the conclusion they are there to try and destract you from other painful events on stage.
The Original Bucks Fizz, Cheryl Baker, Mike Nolan, Jay AstonAs I said at the start as individuals these are lovely people. But there is a lot of "history" between band members, Jay and Cheryl especially. Neither have hidden this fact in interviews and neither admits that everything is ok now.
In this show it is reflected on stage and off.
I'll bring Mike Nolan in at this point because I genuinely felt sorry for him as he reminded me of a referee trying to keep 2 female wrestlers apart and trying to keep the audience entertained at the same time.
Mike was the saving grace for The Original Bucks Fizz Tonight. Despite still suffering after effects of the coach crash in 1984 Mike Nolan was the entertainer through and through. He was the one who created the bulk of the laughter, he was the only one who made a point of entertaining at the very edge of the stage and when he got the opportunity to sing solo or to lead he was the star that shone tonight. Having after effects from a head injury myself I really admired Mike Nolan tonight - yes he forgot a couple of words as was critisized by some fan online - sadly some people will remain blissfully ignorant of how a head injury can affect your life forever.
As for the girls well the original harmony just was not there for the bulk of the performance. The only exceptions to this was when tracks were performed, and sung, in the original style as in the 1980's. This was demonstrated in the last 2 tracks The Land Of Make Believe and the Eurovision success Making Your Mind Up. As these tracks were performed flawlessly and with flair I turned to the wife and asked why they couldn't have performed like this the rest of the evening?
I doubt whether Cheryl or Jay would admit it but the friction is there for all to see. On stage there are little jibes about age and some bitchy off-mike comments. Some may interpret that as humour but body language and little on stage "talks" amongst the two while Mike tries to hold the audience attention says otherwise. After the show the stars can't be faulted towards meeting the fans, taking all the time in the world for autographs, but even then the body language is there for all to see. Mike seated between Cheryl and Jay, who appears very much still on the outside of this "group"- at times it looked as if she would prefer to fall off the end of the table rather than close in on the other two.
This really is a great shame. You'd have thought 4 people (note I'm including Bobby here) who could easily have been killed in 1984 would reflect on the fact life is too short and that this show could have been so different and so successful.
To be fair to all who have taken part in Bucks Fizz in it's various guises over the years this would have been better being The History Of Bucks Fizz Tour. Just imagine no support act just everybody who has sung in the group playing their part and repeating history. The show kicks off with "the original 4". Shelley Preston who I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed as Jay's replacement could take part as could Bobby G's wife Heidi Manton who has played a big role over the years and who I believe owns the rights to the true Bucks Fizz name. David Van Day who made a fleeting visit in Bucks Fizz lifetime could also take part. The show could end with the original 4 or even every member ever singing an encore.
Now what a show that would be and I certainly feel it might entice more than 300 people into a theatre like The Congress which could hold 1700+
However I feel that the above will never happen - the bitchiness, bad feeling and legal squabbles seem destined to stay with Bucks Fizz forever. I can't see them ever being able to all sit down comfortably in the same room to talk let alone sing together. Even ACAS may have trouble with Bucks Fizz negotiations.
There are many reports that at Bognor something happened between the band members and 2 audience members that led to a fan saying "he had seen a different side of Cheryl and Mike". Boy I'd love to know more on that story!
The furore doesn't end there though as even their dedicated fans are mystified at the somewhat Draconian complete photo ban during shows. Threats of camera confiscation, theatre eviction it's all happened and Eastbourne is only the 2nd venue!
Most groups will tolerate non-excessive photography. From what I have read Jay has said this is not so much for the photo ban but more to avoid the ban's spectacular comeback being spoiled by the concert and tracks being on You Tube.
Based on what we saw tonight I'd be more worried about what people heard on You Tube rather than saw. With the promise that on the CD set many of the original tracks have been modernized it could end up being Bucks Fizzled out as regards to sales.
I have given The Original Bucks Fizz 3 stars (an average "OK" score) these are mainly awarded for Mike's outstanding contribution to the show, the last couple of wonderful tracks, the willingness of these people to take time for autographs, photos and to talk to fans after the show.
There was a lot of talk by Cheryl tonight of a future tour. To be honest without a turnaround in attendance fortunes and restoring a true good-will between members of the band, past and present, I can't see this happening.
3 out of 5 for The Original Bucks Fizz
Jay Aston, Mike Nolan, Cheryl Baker - The Original Bucks Fizz

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1 comment:

  1. Good to see that someone has recognized that Mike Nolan is performing still after a major accident which affected his brain,
    I my opinion, that's impressive knowing what he suffers with.

    Sad though that they didn't draw a bigger crowd, I live in Australia, was hoping they would return. With your report here...doesn't sound positive.

    Seems Plasticine might be a better act?


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