at the Civic Theatre
The Civic crammed to the rafters for this Cotton Club tribute, aiming to recreate the music and dance of the famous New York hot spot. Featuring not only the sounds of the Harry Strutters Hot Rhythm Orchestra [Octet, to be pedantic] but also the lithe energy of the Jiving Lindy Hoppers.
Two hours of old-fashioned entertainment, evoking the crooners and the hoofers of the Twenties and Thirties. Billie Holliday, Mr Bojangles, Bessie Smith, Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald.
Amongst the many highlights: Martin Litton's stride piano, a tap/drums showdown between Lee Payne and the band's powerhouse percussionist Graham Collicott, a breathtaking Charleston masterclass, the One Man Dance trio. And Collicott's impressive Drum Crazy neatly subverted by the boys in the band – paper tearing, clock watching, large print Beano reading ...
The sound system – the least authentic part of the evening – meant that some of singer Marlene Hill's lyrics, the Wrong Keyhole for instance, were hard to hear. Much more successful were her duets with an unplugged instrumentalist. And over-amplification also means that people who need to talk through the music must raise their voices to be heard.
Vocalist host for the evening was Megs Etherington, ragging the band, joining the jiving and treating us to vocal refrains.