It’s so good to see so many of you lovely readers here tonight…
The Blues Brothers is arguably one of the greatest movies ever made. It’s an argument that doesn’t have a lot of evidence backing it up and to be honest it’s generally a losing argument. Nevertheless the original Dan Ackroyd/James Belushi film is rose-tintedly sitting in the back of my mind and I hardly dare watch it again in case, you know, it isn’t half what I remember. But when I saw that The Blues Brothers Live was playing at the Edinburgh Fringe I had to go.
If you know the film then you’re in for a treat. These crazy cats look and sound like the originals. If the film has passed you by then you will still enjoy the most boisterous musical evening in Edinburgh. The stage set includes a bar where what looks like real Budweisers are dispensed to the singers, helping to create an authentic Blues Brothery atmosphere at the main C Venue in Chambers Street.
The band’s entrance works well, the drummer coming on stage first and starting up a beat, before the other musicians join him one at a time. All wearing Raybans, of course. Then the Earl Perkins and the two female singers Jo Edwards and Bryony Ward came on, before, in full black suit, tie and hat, white shirt and socks, and Raybans Gaz Jenkins and Kieran Sims appeared as Jake and Elwood. Gaz even did a cartwheel as he entered, which is beyond the call of duty. With the band already playing they were straight into the first number and didn’t pause for breath or take their shades off all night.
Mini the Moocher marked the first real audience participation. The lyrics are not intellectual, but then it is the rare individual who turns to Jake and Elwood for philosophical inspiration. Hode hode hode hode hode hode ho sang Jake. Hode hode hode hode hode hode ho echoed the audience.
‘I want to see everyone doing our dance,’ shouted Jake. ‘It’s just flip flap flop’, he added, extending his arms and flapping his hands. That seemed something even a room of Brits could achieve, especially as it was a purely upper body dance and remaining seated was allowed. Not for long though. Jake worked hard to get everyone dancing, having most difficulty with the front row. Soon even they were up and imitating the exuberant dancing on stage.
If you go, try and sit to the right of the auditorium so that you can see the band leader and pianist James Robert Ball. He puts a lot of soul into his performance, jumping in to attack the keyboard, his feet in the air as his hands find the notes to start the music. He’s like a bonus behind the main event at the front of the stage. His band is a youthful incarnation that looks and sounds the part. It’s made me want to dig out my Raybans and take up the sax.