Thursday, 23 June 2011

Rock 'n' Roll Paradise Congress Theatre Eastbourne

Rock n Roll Paradise, Congress Theatre, Eastbourne

Rock 'n' Roll Paradise
Congress Theatre

23rd June 2011

Cast  (programme featured order)
Richard Atkins as Elvis Presley
Nick Player as Buddy Holly
Johnny Curtiss as Roy Orbison
Darren Green as Jerry Lee Lewis
John-Simon Rawlings as The Big Bopper
Peter Jackson - Eddie Cochran

This review must kick off with some clarification. This should at least help a little with ensuring the artists in this production recover some of the fans back who used to follow them around the UK.

The bulk of these tribute artists used to be in a very successful tribute show Rockin' on Heaven's Door.
Prior to May 2010 countrywide reviews of that production were excellent. After May 2010 the feedback began to turn from being very positive into negative territory. Those reviews have remained mixed ever since.
Why? Because the cast split. Most went into this production Rock 'n' Roll Paradise (RARP) but a former member carried on with a touring production retaining the Rockin' On Heaven's Door (ROHD) name.
The Big Bopper. Rock n Roll Paradise, Congress Theatre, Eastbourne
Fans just assumed that Rockin' On Heaven's Door had the same cast and have gone along to their shows only to be very disappointed. How do I know? Because most of them were at this show having finally found out where their favourite tribute artists had gone. It was very much the main topic of conversation in the interval.

It is taking time for audience levels to get back to the size that these singers are used to. A few hundred saw this show but for those that missed this great show you can have a second bite of the cherry on 15th July at exactly the same venue.
I believe that show has sold many more tickets already. It seems that as word gets around that the previous favourites in ROHD are now in RARP the fans are returning.

For those of you who like another tribute production that has toured for years on end, That'll Be The Day, I can assure you that Rock 'n' Roll Paradise will leave you just as impressed.

From the moment Darren Green starts the evening with Jerry Lee Lewis's hits you know this is going to be no slouch of a production. Impressive vocally and a demon on the piano, which even gets played with his feet, he is a true indication of the quality of his fellow performers to come.
In fact Darren is the performer who gets the most exposure as he remains on stage to play for the other artists.

I'll throw in here that a large screen of the on-stage action is particularly well used in RARP. It's not simply a projection of what the front rows can see but views from many different and unusual angles, including along the piano keys! A very clever use of technology with fades and dual displays that add interest to an already lively gig.

So from Jerry and his Great Balls Of Fire we move on to the likes of The Big Bopper. John-Simon Rawlings covers all the tracks the Bopper was known for including Chantilly Lace and Johnny Preston's Running Bear. He also acts as show compere a role that works rather well.

Nick Player is Buddy Holly at his energetic best. I would think that any avid Holly fan would be impressed with him, but not simply for the vocals. In the act you can appreciate the attention to detail he has paid to every little movement and leap Holly used to make on stage. If Nick fancied another tribute act I don't think it would take much effort on his part to take on the late Freddie Garrity (Freddie and The Dreamers). For me he'd be great in the role of the great singer and his comical routines.

We calm things down a little as Johnny Curtiss is an understandably much more calm and serious act as the legendary 'Man In Black' Roy Orbison. The classics Crying and Pretty Woman are of course performed by Johnny. I have to wonder if he is slowly turning into Roy Orbison as he was the only performer still in his act's costume after show - yes sunglasses as well!

Roy Orbison aka Johnny Curtiss, Rock n Roll Paradise, Congress Theatre, Eastbourne
We also have Peter Jackson as Eddie Cochran. Forgetting his superb sound if there is to be a best lookalike it's a close call between Peter and Nick Player. Peter's performing on top of the piano at the end of the first half if a fabulous way to enter an interval, leaving the audience on a high.

Last but certainly not least is Richard Atkins as the King himself. Yes Elvis is most certainly in the building for numerous solo numbers before we move on to the all cast finale. I know Richard already has a huge number of fans who loyally follow his career and his 'romantic', scarf handing out sessions have become his trademark and those Elvis loving ladies just love it.

I'm always wary about tribute acts as they vary so wildly in quality but I can see why the fans who preciously followed the members of this cast in Rockin' on Heaven's Door have scoured the country trying to find them.

The artists are accompanied by the fabulous Paradise band comprising
Spencer Lingwood (drums)
Chris Kane (keyboards/sax)
John O'Malley (lead guitar)
Dave Robson (lead guitar)
Mark Fisher (double bass/bass guitar)

As tributes go this must be one of the very best in the UK and it gets my maximum rating for entertainment value.

If we were able to we would attend again for the July 15th performance. If you like great, lively, fun tributes this show is for you.

Rock n Roll Paradise, Congress Theatre, Eastbourne
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  2. MMm.... I know and I also know I never typed that it in the first place. From recent events I'm pretty sure this blog has been hacked at some point. The keywords were actually still correct, weird, However many thanks and it is now correct (again). I'll await other hacking gems to be picked up.

  3. I have heard so many good things about this show so I booked 4 seats for Friday 14 and I cannot wait this is our era which was the best.Ken


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