Thoughts on Legends in Concert

Returning to Australia for the first time in 18 years, Legends in Concert (featuring talented Prince, Olivia Newton-John, David Bowie, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Adele and Elvis Presley impersonators) lit up The Palms at Crown Casino last night.

What: Legends in Concert – Direct from Las Vegas
Where: The Palms, Melbourne
When: 18th January, 2017

Legends in Concert is playing at The Palms until January 29th, 2017.
For tickets and information visit: http://www.legendsinconcert.com

Opening Night, the atmospheric-smoke filled the room and the lights dimmed as Jay Leno (as performed by Marcel Forestieri) described on duo side-screens what classifies a legend. Oxford Dictionaries describes it as: “an extremely famous or notorious person, especially in a particular field” as it were.

Prince, as performed by Frank Moore, was the first performer of the night. Donned in sparkles, sequins and many layers of purple, he was a favourite amongst the crowd. With his uncanny likeness to Prince (including numerous wig and costume changes) and armed with killer vocals; he utilised the dancers the best on the night. Performing some of Prince’s greatest hits, including Purple Rain and 1999, his energetic, comedic and accurate performance set the tone and standard for the night!

Having been chosen by Legends and Olivia herself in a worldwide You’re the One That I Want contest last year; Olivia Newton-John impersonator, Kelly Smith, performed for the first time in Newton-John’s hometown. I questioned her addition to the line-up – is she really a legend? But after a little research, I say to myself and the other naysayers, she’s one of Australia’s most successful performers internationally. We tend to treat our Aussies a little bit harsher, especially whose notoriety may be higher in countries other than our own, but there’s merit to Newton-John being named a legend.

And while I was disappointed with the lack of Xanadu or Let’s Get Physical, Smith used the best of theatrics with her performances of Summer Lovin’ and You’re the One that I Want from the 1978 classic, Grease. Dancing alongside the back-up dancers, while the main male back-up singer played Danny; she donned a tightly-curled, blonde wig with black, skin tight, almost-catsuit outfit. While the crowd didn’t show too much enthusiasm for the others, the songs from Grease energised the crowd and had us singing and dancing along!

David Brighton closed the first set with his portrayal of David Bowie. Now, I’m no Bowie expert. In fact, I’d be hard pressed to even name one of his songs. However, I do know that he had a love of large hairdos, heavy makeup and lavish costumes – but that’s not the Bowie that we were presented with. Video and photographic slideshows were shown during the performances (this was a great visual representation of the artists if you weren’t familiar with their work); not once did I see Bowie dance but that’s what Brighton did throughout his set. Brighton also donned two costumes – a canary yellow suit and a vest, white shirt and black pants combo, respectfully – and his face was clean, which was a far cry from the Bowie shown on screen, so it’s very hard for me to comment on how similar he was to Bowie based on what little I know of him and what I saw on screen.

Saying that, Brighton is credited as being the world’s best David Bowie impersonator, so he must be doing something right! He sung well and was a really nice guy to boot – and speaking of boots, check out his footwear during the group finale! Oh baby! (Note: he got them custom-made in LA!). Bowie is such a polarizing artist – you either love him or hate him – compared to some of the other artists who generally everybody likes. He wasn’t my favourite, but that comes down to personal taste, as clearly I’m more of the latter.

After a short break, Kimberly Goltry presented a scantily-clad Madonna on stage. Preferring the look of 80s-period Madonna, Goltry entertained the audience with humour, charisma and a little bit of sultriness, if I do say so myself. At one stage she walked through the audience and interacted with some of the lucky males in the front row. And while I think she was chosen more for her likeness, dance moves and ability to entertain the crowd; I found her much better as an entertainer than singer. This was evident during Don’t Cry for Me Argentina (having been helped alongside by stronger vocalist, Kelly Smith); although well sung, I found Goltry over-performed and over-acted the piece, compared to the rawness and simplicity of Madonna’s movie portrayal in the 1996 musical drama, Evita, based on Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical of the same name.

Damian Brantley’s Michael Jackson is something truly to behold. Can I just say – what an absolute superstar?! He was just so damn good! Only Brantley could do a five minute dance solo and not bore the crowd. He spoke like MJ, moved like MJ and sang like MJ. All up, he was my favourite performer of the night, with Thriller my favourite of the night. I cannot fault him, except that I wanted more!

As soon as J.C. Brando came on stage as Adele, I thought we had been duped – I was sure that Legends had fooled us into thinking we were watching an impersonator but secretly the real Adele had hit our shores instead. Her likeness was uncanny (although this wasn’t as evident when up close). Adele seemed like an odd choice to have in the line-up, as she’s a relativity new performer in comparison to the others. I felt like she represented my generation, while still very much liked by an older crowd, which actually worked quite well overall. Brando has Adele’s laugh and voice down pat, which is quite a shock if you haven’t seen or heard her before. And her vocals were beautifully haunting, just like the original.

Last was Kevin Mills as Elvis Presley. I wasn’t alive to see Elvis perform but after the set, I understood the sexual appeal of the King. The women in the audience were never as vocal until he hit the stage. With various hollers of ‘I love you, Elvis’, Mills exchanged silk scarves of various colours for kisses with a number of lucky ladies in the audience (may have left me a little bit green, just saying). I hadn’t been completely aware of Elvis’s dance repertoire but watching him on screen while Mills mimicked on stage, he was spot on. Clearly exhausted after his dance solo though, the sweat actually helped him as even that could be taken as a nod to Elvis himself.

The nature of a plethora of stars show is each gets a short amount of time on stage, but it’s a great option for people who have a vast love for different artists who may not have been able to experience the original legends in concert, especially those who may have now sadly passed. With all seven performers joined by the dancers, singers and band, the finale medley of Queen’s We Will Rock You to the all in sing-along of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ was a highlight of the night.

I’ve never been a fan of tribute shows, but having seen two within six months, I’m now hooked. Legends in Concert is something magical, special and truly unique. There was never a dull moment or performance. The show really is carried by the fantastic supporting players – I especially enjoyed the ever-changing costumes of the talented male and female dancers. It’s not often that you get to share a room with so many legends but those at The Palms get to do just that.


Legends in Concert is playing at The Palms until January 29th, 2017.
For tickets and information visit: http://www.legendsinconcert.com

Legends in Concert and Tickets courtesy of Cavanagh PR.

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