Tuesday 16th May 2023
The Adelphi Theatre, London
Kerry Ellis, the queen of musical theatre, featuring in a Wrinkly Rockers review - is that correct? Well, yes, she has proved with her collaborations with her good friend Sir Brian May on previous albums (he features on the emotional ballad 'Battlefield' here), plus not forgetting the We Will Rock You show (she starred as Meat), that she has Rock Chick DNA. Her voice lending itself equally to Rock or Country tinged music as well as the dramatic roles she is famous for.
Hailed as the West End's favourite Leading Lady, Kerry was catapulted to fame in 2002 when she landed the aforementioned role of Meat. She has gone onto star in a range of acclaimed productions on both West End and Broadway stages, including Les Misérables, Wicked, Oliver! And Cats. Most recently, Kerry starred as Reno Sweeney in both the UK and Ireland tour and Barbican Theatre residency, of hit musical Anything Goes, alongside Denis Lawson.
This show in the lovely art deco surrounds of London's Adelphi Theatre to promote her new (fourth solo) album, 'Kings & Queens', was frankly different class; her vocals drawing that awed expression amongst audience members when another high note was effortlessly delivered, too many wows to mention. The fact that every song on the album is great, helps the show flow along easily and her personality makes the first act of the show probably my favourite concert section so far this year. Played in a slightly different running order to the actual album, every song is a highlight.
Commencing with the title track the show gets off to an awesome start. Ironically her tribute to the late great Tina Turner, came one week before the superstars unfortunate passing, but Kerry’s version of 'Be Tender With Me Baby' is wonderfully strong and heartfelt, while 'I Will Find You' is a wonderful mid-tempo number meted out.
'Mean The World To Me' is the result of a request from Kerry to Ben Adams to produce a 'Shallow'-like song, and thus they collaborated to write this beautiful song that bears more than a passing resemblance in terms of style and make-up; sung with musical theatre star Newton Faulkner on the album, although, tonight, Britain’s Got Talent Runner-up Tom Ball carries out stage duties here, and the duet is spellbinding.
'The Only One' also shows her amazing versatility as it would fit easily into any great Country singers repertoire, without missing a beat; while 'My All' is a ballad of sheer majesty, closer to her stage persona than any other featured song, she certainly does give it her all on this track.
'Lemonade' is the Poppiest song on display, very catchy and a possible hit if released as a single. Carrie Underwood's 'Love Wins' (which closes the first set) plus James Taylor’s wonderful 'Fire & Rain', are both re-imagined and once more flit into the Country genre which suits her so well.
The second set commenced with a section from the London Show Choir who go through a number of songs from various shows. Great as this was, they possibly outstayed their welcome by two songs (five songs in all), because I’d loved to have seen as much of Kerry as possible, such was the emotional weight and substance of her performance.
She did return for further songs including the aforementioned 'Shallow' (once more with Tom Ball) before her slightly pared back take of 'Defying Gravity' which was beautifully sung. The show closed fittingly with the return of the the choir backing Kerry for 'Bohemian Rhapsody', and a frankly sensational evening was over. Witnessing a Kerry Ellis show and listening to her fantastic new album are highly recommended - stage star, Rock chic, Country singer extraordinaire, she has it all!
Set List (Kerry’s own version!)
Kings and Queens
Be Tender with me baby
Big wide world
I will find you
Fire and rain
Mean the world to me (with Tom Bell)
Feels like home