NIGHTS ON BROADWAY – THE BEE GEES STORY
NIGHTS ON BROADWAY – THE BEE GEES STORY – Playhouse Whitley Bay
~a guest Blog by John Gregson from Blade Printers for Nights Out In Newcastle.
The Gibb brothers, more commonly known as “The Bee Gees” were quite well-travelled from an early age. Born on the Isle of Man, raised in Manchester and finally emigrating to Queensland, Australia – then across to Cribb Island where they had their first foray into the charts. The trio, disappointed with their limited success abroad, moved back to the UK in 1967 and this was were their epic journey began. It didn’t take long to crack the music business, within a few years the Bee Gees became a household name, conquering the world and selling well over 220 million records across the globe. They were a phenomenal success and had a string of hits spanning over four decades. Not content with writing their own chart toppers, they also had considerable success penning several hits for their peers, including tracks for Dolly Parton “Islands in the Stream“, Diana Ross “Chain Reaction” and the unforgettable “Grease” crooned by Frankie Valli in the film of the same name. Sadly, Barry is the only surviving Gibb brother, so a live Bee Gees concert is now impossible. Luckily for us, we have “Nights on Broadway”, an accomplished and well honed Bee Gees tribute act that cover the majority of their hits, along with a smattering of good old fashioned Irish humour, all on their current 2017 UK tour “Nights on Broadway – The Bee Gees Story”.
Tonight’s show was at the modern looking Playhouse Whitley Bay which had a complete make over in 2009. Arriving at 6.45pm didn’t leave too many free spaces at the adjacent car park, but with car safely shoe horned in to place, we entered a very busy reception area. The box office was in full swing issuing tickets and the bar was doing a roaring trade with queues already 4 or 5 deep. Plastic glasses in hand, we entered a deserted theatre to find our seats before the melee, it didn’t take too long to fill the room and by 7.30pm, with everyone seated, the lights dimmed and the concert began.
The stage was decked out with three low pedestals at the rear, one each for the drummer, bass and keyboard player. Behind them, on the backdrop, was a large screen with low res images, scrolling every few seconds, portraying the Bee Gees, their album covers and videos. Front of stage were the lead and acoustic guitarists who were joined by another keyboard player – these represented the Gibb brothers and were dressed accordingly. Lighting was very low key with the emphasise being on the trio, who not only dress like their heroes, but move and act like them too. “Nights on Broadway” showcase the finest Bee Gees hits, starting with the 60’s and then working up through the decades. All the favourites make an appearance, along with a few that didn’t quite make it at the time. At first, Tony Kelly’s (Barry) falsetto tone seemed a tad on the shaky side, or forced, but, a few bars in, he tightened up the vice, and was able to hit the highest of glass breaking pitches that even Barry Gibb would be proud of. In fact, when Dominic Feekery (Robin) and Peter Simpson (Maurice) joined him, gathering around the microphone to harmonise, it was nigh on impossible to spot any difference between this spurious trio and the real thing. 60’s hits came first, to get the audience warmed up, followed by the 70’s, 80’s and then the 90’s – all sung in typical Bee Gees style. Quite a few songs I’d never heard before were also thrown in the mix, for good measure. A quick look around the theatre and it was very close to being a sell out. There was a few small family groups and couples out for an evenings entertainment, but the majority of the audience (85%) were female and most were part of larger groups of party go’ers – all taking up full rows at a time. Just as the show was in full swing, an interval was called for and the Bee Gees broke off for a Tea break – queue a mad rush for the bar.
Two songs in after the interval, the audience (still seated) are already swaying in time with the catchy beats. Each row moving side to side, not in sync with any other row, causing what look like waves, to crash forward towards the stage. There’s quite a few breakers that spoil the effect, people on their phones, checking Facebook, sending texts, deep in conversation, drunk, or just not realising that the show had actually started again. The majority though were well up for it which made for a really good atmosphere. By the third song everyone was standing, arms in air and singing their hearts out, some finely tuned, others, painfully not – we can’t all be like the Bee Gees. All too soon, at 10.00pm, it was time for the show to close – but not before bringing the house down with an encore, and a song the whole audience came to hear, “Tragedy”. This brought everyone to their feet, to clap, sing, sway and even dance in the aisles – even I managed a few steps. I think the whole audience enjoyed their night out with the Bee Gees – lets face it, a live concert with the original Bee Gees isn’t going to happen any time soon – so why not try the next best thing – “Nights on Broadway, The Bee Gees Story”.
For more information on the Playhouse Whitley Bay click here.