Review of 'Jones & Russell Watson In Harmony Tour'

aled_watson_2019.jpg https://www.aledandrussell.com/

As a fan of Russel Watson I am always interested in seeing any of his performances so when he intriguingly teamed up with Aled Jones, who is perhaps best known for his bestselling single “Walking in the Air” when he was a boy but now known as a presenter of BBC's religious “Songs of Praise” show, I could not really resist particularly playing at the iconic London Palladium (it helps I got a good price on the tickets). Both have wonderful voices but to see how they would perform together was an intriguing prospect. One of the reasons for this tour was the promotion of their forthcoming “Back in Harmony” album which they mentioned, tongue in cheek, throughout their performance and were selling in the foyer.

We were lucky enough to be sitting in the stalls quite close to the front on the right so had a great view of the stage. As expected, the staging was quite simple for the show with just a small setup for their backing band. However, their opening act was singer “Natasha Hemmings” who only brought a guitarist, mostly relying on a rather loud backing track (most of the time you could not even hear her lone guitarist). Her performance of 6 or 7 songs was generally alright particularly her take on Kate Bush's “Wuthering Heights” but otherwise not at all remarkable. What grated was her rather distracting attempts at interpretive dance with the delicate “wings” on her costume. She seemed to believe she was an angel or some-such flitting across the stage but it ended up being repetitive and indulgent. I am not a huge fan.

As soon as Aled and Russel came onto the stage the quality shone albeit with quite different styles and with Russel this often somewhat detracted. To begin with Russel's microphone balance in the first half was extremely loud overwhelming Aled's quieter, clear voice. Russel continually complained about an excess of fog on the stage preventing him from seeing anything but it was his cocky, arrogant attitude that often grated against calm, measured Aled. Dancing about the stage, swinging the microphone and his improvisational style (despite it's inappropriateness both for the performance but also the music never mind dramatically contrasting to the straight-playing of Aled) seemed to be his way of saying he was the dominant singer, it is only when this was relaxed in the second half that the two's performance really turned into something quite sublime. Their humorous banter continued the perception of Russel as the dominating singer though, fair play to them, it was Aled playfully jibbing Russel of this with Russel taking it on the chin. Musically, in the first half Aled's stunning acapella at the beginning of “Where Have All The Flowers Gone” was incredible while “Dream the Impossible Dream” showcased both of their voices perfectly, otherwise it was two singers singing that happened to be on the stage at the same time rather than any melding of the voices.

The 20 minute interval was slightly extended due to a medical emergency at the front of the stalls necessitating a member of the audience being taken to the hospital. The second half of the performance is where Russel appeared to ease back on his distracting egotistical attitude and actually concentrate on singing with Aled. Most of this part of the performance focused on religious work. “You Raise Me Up” from Josh Groban was particularly wonderful.

In both the first and second halves the two would leave the stage for an instrumental interlude to allow them to refresh themselves and with this they actually sang very few songs, perhaps only 7-8 per half though it was nice to see that all pieces were performed together rather than having solo songs. It is a shame that Russel's attitude was so out of sync with Aled. When Russel concentrated on singing together their performance was incredible with Aled's smooth voice combined with the strength and range of Russel – I just wish they had done this more often.

Am amazing evening with some incredible sounding performances from two of the best English tenors in the business today, at least, when they sang together. Quite fun and relaxed.

Rating:

Review Date: 2019-09-21



London Palladium

Location: London (England)

Address: Argyll Street, London England, W1F 7TF

Public Transport: TUBE Oxford Circus

Telephone: +44 (0) 844 412 4655

URL: http://www.reallyusefultheatres.co.uk/our-theatres/london-palladium

The grand old daddy of London theatres, the Palladium has a long and illustrious history of Vaudeville, pantomime, the Royal Variety Performance show (held yearly as a “command performance” for the royal family), “Sunday Night at the London Palladium” live television show as well as big modern musicals including the Sound of Music, Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Access to the theatre is simple as it is immediately adjacent to Oxford Circus and on a quiet side street that is (normally) vehicle free. The interior of the theatre is magnificent in a classical way having been recently restored.