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Brother Love's Travelling Salvation Show (Beaulieu Palace, Brockenhurst - tour)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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What a fantastic night out! Set in a ‘Big Top’ venue this production is slick, high energy and totally spectacular, something one has come to expect from producer and choreographer Craig Revel Horwood. Right from the first cello solo you are transported on a roller-coaster journey celebrating Neil Diamond’s iconic and unique music.

The sound system is superb, bombarding the ears and stirring the blood where necessary but when subtlety is required, every lingering note can be heard. The lighting is mesmeric and adds spectacularly to the electric atmosphere created by this dazzling show.

Multi-talented Brian Conley heads the dynamic cast as an evangelist preacher, ‘Brother Love’, inspiring and captivating his audience throughout this theatrical concert based on the belief that the ‘Power of Neil’ can and will conquer all. Well he conquered me!! He is accompanied by a magnificent band, brilliantly directed by Richard Weeden. There are poignant performances from violinist Elisa Boyd guitarist and vocalist Gareth Bailey who bravely doubled as a Neil Diamond look alike.

Darren Day is an exceptional lieutenant to Conley, producing many memorable performances - his heart wrenching rendition of ‘Love on the Rocks’ is a highlight. As part of this number the saxophonist Richard Pardy gives a haunting interpretation.

Greg Barnett, an accomplished cellist, is also blessed with a magnificent singing voice, captivating the audience with his version of ‘Shiloh’ and ‘Solitary Man’. He is an exceptional talent. Ben James-Ellis is softer in his delivery, but no less effective. He brings the house alive with ‘Kentucky Woman’ and ‘Cracklin Rosie’. The trio of girls, Abbie Osman Amy Diamond (no relation), and Cleopatra Rey supporting the lead vocalists, are all very impressive in both song and dance - lighting up the stage with their diverse abilities and polished performances.

You probably need to be a Neil Diamond fan, or at least know his music, to truly appreciate and enjoy this production. Sadly, the seating is not comfortable; and without raking, vision of the stage is poor for all but the tallest, and I fail to see why this had to be staged in a ‘Big Top’, unusual though this is. Surely a warm, comfortable theatre would be more conducive to the ultimate enjoyment of this otherwise unforgettable show.


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