Stage: The Reals present British Invasion – Rhumbelow Theatre, Tina’s Hotel, Beryldene Road, Kloof
REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER
IN AN effort to attract a younger audience while not alienating the more mature fan who prefers classic goldie-oldies, Durban band The Reals, along with talented special guest guitarist and singer Shaun Dragt, hits bullseye by striking a happy balance that should keep all the customers satisfied.
British Invasion is a hugely satisfying show with a fine collection of songs saluting remarkable British music acts, and showcasing a good band on great form. I rate it a personal favourite by The Reals, alongside the band’s Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, Rodriguez and Dire Straits tributes.
All that remains now is to spread the word and get bums on seats for a production which runs at 8pm nightly until Saturday, August 4, and then has a 2pm Sunday performance on Sunday, August 5. Shows are also scheduled for 8pm nightly Wednesday to Saturday next week and 2pm next Sunday.
With its first half devoted to mostly songs of the ’60s and ’70s and its second mostly devoted to acts from the ’80s to the early 2000s, British Invasion is well worth the R150 ticket price (R130 for pensioners).
The show, which Dragt was largely instrumental in devising, has the band as a picture of verve and versatility, the programme offering an excellent bag of treats, embellished with video footage shown on a suspended video screen to the side of a stage flanked by British flags.
Featuring minimal patter and some interesting anecdotes and facts from lead singer and lead guitarist Barry Thomson, the show opens with the group performing Twist and Shout, goes into drummer Mali Sewell handling lead vocals on I Saw Her Standing There, then features keyboardist and musical director Dawn Selby on lead vocals for a gutsy Helter Skelter.
The first half also sees Barry taking centre-spotlight for an excellent version of The Hollies classic, Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress, as well as You Really Got Me by The Kinks; while both Mali and Barry share lead vocals on The Animals classic, We Gotta Get Out of This Place.
Bassist Jason Andrew takes solo vocals for The Rolling Stones’ ’80s hit, Start Me Up, while Barry handles vocals on The Stones’ Bad Sugar and the standout Pink Floyd classic, Comfortably Numb.
The first half closes on two rousing notes – Barry performing The Who’s Teenage Wasteland and Dawn doing a great job belting out Led Zeppelin’s shrill head-banger Rock ’n’ Roll. These songs set the pace for the louder second half, which concentrates mostly on post-’70s chart successes.
A video from the rock parody film, This Is Spinal Tap, opens the second half, which sees band members snaking through the audience on to the stage for Shaun to take lead vocals on Oasis’s Wonderwall and, later, Blur’s blistering Song 2. Shaun also excels on lead guitar in a terrific delivery of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid which features Jason on lead vocals.
I also loved the group’s delivery of The Clash’s headbanging London’s Calling, Queen’s Fat-Bottomed Girls and Iron Maiden’s Run to the Hills, all with Barry on lead vocals. However, I’d have gone for a bigger Bad Company hit than Run With the Pack to close a show which offers two fine encores in Genesis’s I Can’t Dance and Deep Purple’s Highway Star.
As Barry points out on stage, there is so much more material available for this show theme that a sequel or two is possible. So roll up, roll up! Book soon, and make this a success to spawn a follow-up. It’s truly a fun show!
Seating is at tables of six at this venue. Book at Computicket or call Roland at 082 499 8636.