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December 16, 2013

Blues Brothers ExperienceTHEY say impersonation is the best form of flattery, if that is the case then Jake and Elwood Blues should change colours to red.

One of the great 11 piece tribute bands of that iconic duo made famous by Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi, gave a one night gig in Romford’s Brookside Theatre on Saturday night (December 14) and it was all it said on the tin.

The band fronted by Ritchie Hicks and Richard Alcock as Jake and Elwood led the charge in front of nine other musicians who seemed to have the best of blues music flowing through their veins.

They said it would be a thumping good night, and it certainly was.

Being a tribute band is perhaps more difficult than the original, but this group managed to stride the chasm between just impersonating, and added their own identity. Not an easy thing to do, but it is amazing how the quality of the show improves.

Blues Brothers ExperienceThe music mix was as you would expect, blasting out high octane notes matching the high volume Blues Brothers Experienceof the brass instruments and amplifiers, but with that secret added ingredient that makes all the difference. Professionalism.

The feel-good factor grew as the show progressed where the initial reserve of the audience had to be broken first.

Well this was not just broken, it was smashed and resulted in the best result any performer can hope for, a singing and dancing audience yelling for more when it was time to go home.

The other impressive thing was the way the whole ambience of the Blues Brothers films were apparent with the skilful addition of lighting and backdrops.

It was a show rather than just a stage concert, and this could be their secret. They appear to have studied the reasons why ‘Blues Brothers’ work, taken it apart and successfully put it back together, translating the whole thing into a live visual and emotional experience of real-time theatre.

Blues Brothers ExperienceThe other ingredient is responding and reacting alongside their audience. The music goes on as long as the paying punters are throwing themselves about the floor in total enjoyment and doing their own impersonating. The classic ‘Tail feather’ was a prime example and just went on and on, leaving an exhausted auditorium of musicians and audience leaning on each other when the music finally stopped.

Then of course, there were the films. In the first they had Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, each with their original styles, so it was a tribute in itself that the band managed to carry them off. Belting out the high notes, the only woman in the band, Abi Gibson (above right), reached the heights with a sparklingly high and powerful voice. You could tell it not Aretha Franklin, but certainly someone of equal note adding her own style to the mix and achieving exactly the same effect.

With a brass section of Trumpet, Trombone, Ato,Tenor and Baritone Sax, drums, bass and keyboard, they certainly did make the evening swing.

Blues Brothers ExperienceThe group was formed by Simon Rownes, who plays bass and Tony Mallandain, and the thing I particularly like about this band is they do not overplay the typical ‘tribute’ way of using the actual star names they are impersonating every five minutes. Blues Brothers have the essential ‘Penguin’ and other references as part of the make up, but with these guys their musicianship does away with all that. It’s not Dan Ackroyd or John Belushi on stage but musicians of equal merit giving a show in that style.Blues Brothers Experience

Blues Brothers Experience are well worth a ticket of anyone’s money. They are based in north Essex and often play in Romford, Chelmsford and other venues locally.

For up to date information it is worth going on their website

They will be returning to the Brookside Theatre in 2014 and information can be found on

From → Entertainment

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