Live Music/GigReviewSouth West

The Blues Brothers (Approved) – New Theatre, Cardiff

Reviewer: Emily Pearce

Blues Brothers (Approved) is an officially endorsed tribute to legendary comedy duo The Blues Brothers, running through all the hits that got a generation boogieing.

The energy from the start is infectious, with many audience members dancing in the aisles from the first number; the ensemble makes a real effort to maintain the energy throughout, even in the slower numbers.

The band, on the whole, is excellent, with a real comradery on display throughout. Guitarist Rufus Rufell is particularly proficient with complicated solos that are brilliantly inventive. However, occasional missed cues and tuning issues from other members mean that the performance lacked tightness on this particular night.

A narrative might add another dimension and depth to the performance but, as a covers concert (albeit one that’s sanctioned by original Elwood, Dan Ackroyd, and Judith Belushi, widow of John) it provides plenty of entertainment. Slapstick humour, that while not everyone’s bag, is clearly enjoyed by the audience – particularly when costume changes reflect the music choices (the Brothers changing into bee costumes for Slim Harpo’sI’m a King Beewent down very well).

The Brothers (played now by Brad Henshaw as Jake and Chris Chandler as Elwood) themselves have a cheeky chemistry and play off one another well. Unfortunately, on the night in question, it was occasionally difficult to understand their introductions due to microphone issues, which meant some of their wittier remarks are missed. Highlights come from The Bluettes, (Alexus Ruth, Janessa QuaandJenny Fitzpatrick) backing singers who do far more than just back the band. Their solos are often the ones the crowd cheer the most, and show real soul, despite the occasional cheesy intro.

If you’re a fan of the original Blues Brothers, then you’re bound to enjoy the energy and joy of the performers; however, Blues music purists may wish to look elsewhere.

Reviewed on 1 July 2016 | Image: Contributed

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The Southwest team is under the editorship of Holly Spanner. 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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