Riverdance is back in Manchester for the final time. Although this Irish dancing show has had more farewell tours than Cher, so don't expect this to be the last you see of them. But judging how lacklustre this tour seems to be, compared with previous efforts, maybe it is time to rest the dancing shoes.
The Riverdance Irish Troupe perform the signature dance, which began life as a celebration of Ireland at the Eurovision Song Contest. This sequence still has a bit of a wow factor, but the lead dancers - although on-the-money in terms of the moves, lack the chemistry required to make this as memorable as it used to be.
Maria Buffini is full of grace and covers the stage with precision but she does not carry off much emotion. Likewise, Alan Kenfick is technically competent but he does not have the magnetism required to draw you into the dance. All is not lost though as the ensemble bring energy and pace to this well known part of the show.
The Moscow Folk Ballet Company make up for any shortcomings also with their human spinning-top routines. They have always been exhilarating to watch and they have lost none of their magic and the audience love them. It's a shame then some other scenes rely on pre-recorded vocals and a click track, as it does take you out of the dance on several occasions.
A tap section which justaposes American and Irish dancing is a real highlight though and proves that what this show needs is humour. The audience laugh and gasp, as they watch tap and Irish dancers battle it out in an amusing dance-off and the effect is completely mesmerising, as it feels more freestyle than some of the more po-faced moments.
Unfortunately any momentum gained is often ground to a halt via too many instrumental sections but the main problem though, is that this tour and the concept seem a tad tired. Some new sections are required to complement audience favourites and other dull Broadway/'Oirish' moments which pander to extreme stereotypes simply need removing.
For die-hard fans, there is a great deal of movement that takes your breath away and for Irish dancing fans - it remains a must-see. But, due to the average leads, cliched and dated sections, and distracting miming and clicks, this current tour of Riverdance is not what it was, sadly.