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BRIAN MAY/KERRY ELLIS 'Anthems'
Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool 3 May 2011
has never put a foot wrong in his illustrious career but was this that
moment when he joined forces with a pop singer and West End actress,
Kerry Ellis? But wait. Queen heartily embraced pop and added bells and
whistles. So my stubborn prejudices were put aside at the door of The
An intelligent guy with a doctorate in astronomy and Chancellor of
Liverpool John Moores University, Professor May is still using his
telescope deftly to spot the pulsars. And so it was appropriate that the
UK tour began in Liverpool in an art deco haven with perfect acoustics
for choirs and orchestras.
I mean you
could never see a guy like May hanging with the boys in some club with a
fag hanging from his gob in his latter years could you?
This is the
King of Pomp and Circumstance operating in a country that invented it.
Commercially it all makes perfect sense. Vintage wine and nouveau
cuisine on a menu to die for.
The evening began though with an uplifting set from Vintage Trouble
which were like a cross between Dr Feelgood and a young James Brown,
featuring the remarkable vocal (and dancing) talents of Ty Taylor.
The generous lightshow and dry ice sprung into action and soon we were
under way with 'Dangerland' a pompous stomper in the 'Kashmir' and
'Perfect Strangers' category. Ellis eased into her berth with the ease
of a seasoned professional, while the inevitable cheers accompanied
The set began as a platform for the Kerry Ellis and May produced album
from which some finely crafted songs have emerged. Two of them are Queen
covers and I must say that May's 'Only the Good Die Young.' featuring
May on his own on acoustic and vocals was a highly moving moment.
Originally written as a lament to Freddie Mercury it was dedicated to
all of us who have lost loved ones before their time.
May has an uncanny knack of spotting a melody and adding just enough of
the trademark guitar and string arrangements to make the whole thing tug
at our emotions whether they be happy or sad.
of us rockers are waiting for that screaming solo from a master
craftsman of our genre, we are missing the point that the reason why
Queen's song have lasted so well is that they have melody. They have
charm. They uplift us. They are timeless.
'Somebody to Love' or 'Save Me' for example. Sung beautifully by Kerry
Ellis, you have to experience them live to be moved. Who hasn't looked
for love or redemption at some point in life? Looking around the packed
auditorium there were grannies with arms aloft and young lovers singing
all the choruses together. The Royal Wedding all over again!
I was expecting some more well known anthems like 'Diamonds are Forever'
which incidentally consisted of a smart arrangement by May, extra lyrics
from Don Black and a vocal lesson from Kerry Ellis who nailed the Bassey
dramatics and added a few octaves of her own.
though mainly consisted of best known Queen covers like 'We are the
Champions' and showpiece songs from the Kerry Ellis album.
project is to have legs, I would take the Anthems theme to its nth
degree and add songs like 'Jerusalem' to the mix. Not since ELP
strangled it has it, to my knowledge, been handled properly by a rock
When the strains of 'Tie Your Mother Down' had subsided, it was clear
that the locals had given the thumbs up.
If you are
looking for a night out with the missus or mum's birthday, this is THE
ONE guys. The stars are aligned. Wallets akimbo.
Photos by Steve
GRTR! Reader Helen Campbell writes:
I met Brian May with my husband and friends before the show at
Gateshead and he is such a nice person. We had photo's before the show
and he brought Kerry into his dressing room to meet us. The night was
The show was magnificent, so much so that my friend and I went
travelled for 2 and half hours to see it all again. I still can't listen
to Only The Good Die Young without crying as she put so much emotion
into her singing ! After an awful year I have never felt this good.
Thank you to both of you you are AMAZING !!!!!