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Get Out More..............................Music Review

RUSSELL WATSON (Symphony Hall)

28-04-2009

 

Touring again after suffering a brain tumour, Russell Watson is wowing audiences once more, including Terry Wills at Symphony Hall.

If ever a performer had an audience ‘eating out of the palm of their hand’ it HAD to be Russell Watson on his welcome return to Symphony Hall.

Not only entertaining with songs ranging from Italian Classics to pop numbers from the confines of the stage, but amazingly making his way into the auditorium, to be overwhelmed by adoring admirers. (Many seemingly determined to have digital cameras capturing what would be an ever-lasting memory.)

So where to start? At the beginning strolling on to stage to a standing ovation, or at the end with cries of ‘More’ More’ echoing resounding in the ears from an ecstatic audience?

Backed by a 12 strong orchestra led by Conductor Jerry Lynch, his repertoire ranged far and wide.

‘Solo Mia’-‘Ave Maria’ - the rousing ‘Funiculi Funicula’ - a soulful version of ‘Georgia on my Mind’ and, as he told the audience ’the most requested song I’ve never recorded” a wonderful version of ‘Music of the Night’ from Phantom of the Opera’.

So entranced was one member at the end of this rendition he couldn’t resist shouting, “Russell, you’re fantastic mate!

The reply? “Thank you very much, thank you, that’s much appreciated”

A response typifying his upbringing, and recognition as to what’s needed to bond with an audience.

Chatting as if performing in a working mens’ club, where he initially learned his trade, the wit and repartee shone through.

A nod here, a wink there, posing for dozens of photographs! “This is my best side”

“How about full face?” “My pop side”- “Me leaving stage” etc, etc.

Never had I seen a more relaxed performer and an audience in seventh heaven at this totally unexpected bonus.

Nessum Dorma’ was a natural choice. Strident, powerful, moving, all the elements rolled into one leading to another standing ovation.

Time to meet his audience face to face, mingling among them singing ‘Volero as he went ‘walkabouts’. Truly astonishing.

A short break and celebrating ‘St Georges Day’ what more appropriate than inviting everyone join in renditions of ‘Jerusalem’ and ‘Land of Hope and Glory’.

And what a ‘warming’ sight to see his devotees rising as one, swaying and waving arms in unison, to climax that section of his performance.

Change of personality ‘Twist and Shout’, I wanna dance with my baby….

The result? A patriotic audience switching mode to sing and dance in the aisles.

This, followed by a gentle rendition of ‘The House of the Rising Sun’ appeared to be his final number but how could The Voice (as he’s known) possibly resist one last song, the very moving “You raise me up.”

Even then as the all-standing audience joined in, he still found time to autograph dozens of programmes before finally, albeit reluctantly, leaving clutching a selection of gifts and bouquets of flower.

It’s not difficult understanding why Russell Watson appeals to those who feel ‘they know him’, courtesy of numerous television appearances, most recently as a panellist on ‘Last Choir Standing’.

The ability to sing in both operatic and pop style, communicate with an audience on a personal level (as he certainly did on this occasion) is an attribute that few entertainers of his generation possess.

No doubt he’ll be returning to Symphony Hall at a future date (incidentally he commented “the acoustics here are fantastic”) and my advice would be book early to avoid missing out on a perfect night’s entertainment.

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