Travelling with Wilburys and others

A scene from Tribute to The Traveling Wilburys. From left are Jason Andrew, Shaun Dragt, Barry Thomson, Mali Sewell and Dawn Selby.

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Stage: The Reals: Tribute to The Traveling Wilburys – Rhumbelow Theatre, Cunningham Road, Umbilo
REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER
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DURBAN band The Reals has an almost uncanny ability to keep churning out tribute shows of a good, often excellent, standard and this latest outpouring of showband entertainment is no exception. It certainly kept Friday’s opening night audience in good spirits.

I must lay my cards on the table and say that I liked the odd hit by the Traveling Wilburys – the British-American supergroup of the late 1980s which comprised George Harrison of The Beatles, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne of ELO – but would not go as far as saying I was a fan.

What did excite me, however, about this new tribute show by The Reals was that not only did the team promise to cover the Traveling Wilburys, offering both that group’s lesser songs and hits, but also numbers associated with the individual members of that band.

To this end the show is a far more pleasing package with a bonus of offering everything upbeat, with no slow songs at all, as lead guitarist and vocalist Barry Thomson points out early in the proceedings.

Colourfully lit by Sarah Claxton and with an excellent sound balance by Andre Norden, the show opens with a bang with Orbison’s classic Pretty Woman, then goes on to see all members of The Reals individually handling lead vocals, sometimes with all the men – drummer Mali Sewell, bassist Jason Andrew and guest guitarist Shaun Dragt – sharing lead vocals in a single song.

Musical director and keyboardist Dawn Selby also gets her time to shine, doing a fine job on lead vocals, in duet with Barry, for a rendition of the Petty-penned Stevie Nicks hit, Stop Dragging My Heart Around, a second-half highlight.

Personally, I would have preferred more songs by George Harrison, Jeff Lynne  and Roy Orbison to the rather overlong dedication to Tom Petty in the second half. However, all considered, there is a fine mix of songs, all well done, in this entertainment for which, sadly, booking seems to be a little slow.

The Traveling Wilburys released a 1998 debut album, Traveling Wilburys Vol 1, and, after the death of Orbison, a less popular second album, the intentionally misnumbered 1990 release, Traveling Wilburys Vol 3.

Their biggest hits were Handle With Care, You Got It and End of the Line  – and all appear in the show.

Other items to look forward to on the programme include Bob Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower and Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right, as well as three Jeff Lynne/ELO classics (Don’t Bring Me Down, Turn to Stone and the encore item, Hold on Tight), all of them show standouts.

The show has final performances at 2pm this Sunday (May 12), then 8pm next Friday and Saturday (May 17 and 18) and 2pm on Sunday, May 19.

Tickets cost R150 each and booking is at Computicket or by phoning Roland Stansell at 082 499 8636.


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