North WestReview

Sir Michael Parkinson: Our Kind of Music – The Lowry, Salford

Reviewer: Donna Kelly

Few talk show hosts can boast the popularity or respect of Sir Michael Parkinson. Since 1963, Parkinson (or “Parky” as he is better known) has become a firm fixture on British TV screens, most notably for his television talk show,Parkinsonwhich ran from 1971 to 1982 and from 1998 to 2007.

Following the success of his last UK tour,An Evening with Sir Michael Parkinson, Parkinson returns to the stage for his new show Our Kind of Music. Described as a “live theatrical journey” to the “musical heart of Sir Michael Parkinson”, the two-hour show sees the English broadcaster turn the spotlight on himself to share stories from his extensive career and his passion and love for music in all its forms.

With a career that spans five decades, Parkinson certainly has plenty of stories to tell. Chatting to his son and long-term producer Mike, the first half sees the 83-year old talk about his early career, from his first ever TV interview with a young aspiring musician named Mick Jagger, to the launch of his talk show Parkinson, where he interviewed the likes of George Shearing, Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson, Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby.

The best material is, of course, the footage and stories we haven’t seen or heard before. A tale of drunken night out in which Dudley Moore forces Parkinson to sing Moon River in front of a packed London bar is re-enacted on stage with the help of singer/songwriter Joe Stilgoe. Previously lost footage of Parkinson interviewing John Lennon inside a giant sack – at the instance of Yoko Ono after he asked a question about The Beatles – is also played on the big screen, as the award-winning broadcaster holds his head in shame.

The second half focuses on the many stars whose careers Parkinson helped to launch, most notably Jamie Cullum, Michael Bublé and Diana Krall. Here, Parkinson also shares some material from his 2012 show for Sky Arts, including a clip of when he put Elton John’s song writing skills to test by asking him to improvise a song about the overflowing River Thames, a test which is later given to Joe Stilgoe who is given his own audience-inspired medley to improvise.

Yet, while Parkinson’s taste in music takes in everything from Razorlight to Paul Simon and The Beatles to Oasis, the focus on this show is very much on the Great American Songbook. Parkinson has spent much of his career promoting this particular genre of music and while it is amicable that the broadcaster is doing everything he can to keep that flame alive, as such, the show feels very much rooted in the past.

That said, if you’re a fan of the music or Parkinson himself, this is a fascinating, entertaining and informative journey into his extensive career and an enjoyable evening full of nostalgia, humour and heart.

Reviewed on 29 April 2018 | Image: Contributed

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The North West team is under the editorship of John McRoberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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