Saturday, April 02, 2005


at the Civic Theatre


the published review:

Despite their name, these “natural tenors” are decidedly British, though they look to Italy for their material and their style. They are Morgan Lee James, son of a Welsh miner, Geofrey Coles from Yorkshire, and James Fitzgerald, just back from entertaining on the QEII.

They are certainly not a Three Tenors tribute band, though their Sole Mio was a clone of the Rome original. They keep alive a valuable British tradition; the crossover repertoire of Richard Tauber, John McCormack and David Whitfield, whose shades were always in the wings in this unashamed wallow in the nostalgic potential of a powerful pair of lungs.

They were last here in February 2004, and it was disconcerting to hear almost all the same numbers, the same gags, the same ad libs. A welcome innovation, though, was Dave Smith at his superb symphonic keyboard, though it did mean stadium-strength amplification for the singers.

The most successful moments for me were when the singers spoke of the influences that shaped their musical careers – Al Martino, Josef Locke, Heddle Nash – and revived some forgotten gems from the repertoire: The Soldier’s Dream [with audience participation, this year], Here in My Heart.

They left us with the Brightman/Bocelli Partiro, and Leopold’s cod Goodbye from White Horse Inn. They said they were looking forward to their next visit. Perhaps they might leave it a little longer than 14 months, or mine the rich seam of the neglected tenor repertoire for some new material.

and my April 1 spoof - sent to Jim Hutchon only !


at the Civic Theatre


They first worked together in Blackburn, in the dim and distant days of 1998. Their biographies are vague on their performing pedigree; “natural tenors” to a man, they are masters of audience-pleasing numbers of the can belto school.

Think Il Divo with dentures. Think Russell Watson when “The Voice” is going, and you have an idea of the unsubtle sound they make, amplified to make the Civic sound like the Albert Hall.

Morgan Lee James, who is tenor only in the sense that Michael Ball is a tenor, can sell a number with the best of them. His embarrassing Barber of Seville, and his appalling Pirate King, did no favours to Rossini or to Sullivan, but pleased the mature audience; though I did notice that the couple in front of us were sufficiently compos mentis to realize that they’d seen the same show this time last year, and left in the interval.

Nessun Dorma featured twice, Vesti la Giubba was milked to death, and the West End was raided for some less worthy material to murder.

Geoffrey Coles and James Fitzgerald have the remains of a voice, though most of their singing was a triumph of technique and showmanship over actual singing.

With an act like this you have to keep moving,” quipped Morgan. Change the act, or move on, I say.

date line April 1 2005