Sunday, 30 June 2013

Colm Wilkinson Gets His Mojo Workin' at St Davids Hall, Cardiff;Saturday 29th June

Photo courtesy of @angieiswelsh

When a performer announces a solo tour, you never know quite what to expect. Sometimes they just sing songs with little audience interaction but I think most know that in order to really connect it'll take a little more than that.

So, if you're looking for that perfect formula, look no further than Colm Wilkinson... he is the master of the solo gig! No wonder other performers list him as an influence on their careers. Colm's presence on stage is natural and comfortable. He feels at home and clearly revels in sharing his love of the job and music with his audience, constantly involving us. He interacts with the audience in a conversational manner encouraging the audience to talk back and has us singing along at various points through the show. 

The biggest surprise was how funny he is, though. He told some jokes, claiming his wife warned him not to, and it really warmed up the audience. He also got us to turn around and shake the hand of the person behind us as an ice breaker. It's these little touches that make the difference between a sterile album concert and a memorable, fun night out - or to use Ramin's terminology; A Hootenanny.  

Colm performed a range of songs taken from his album as well as songs that he simply enjoys himself. He treated us to a song he wrote years ago called "I cannot stay" about taking for granted that loved ones know they are loved and how we should say it more often. If you haven't heard it, here's a link to a video of it from a concert a few years back (not my video).

His passion for rock & roll really came across - he put so much energy into the performance and considering he's 69 that energy could match any of his younger counterparts. He got us signing the phrase "I got my mojo workin" back at him during the song of the same name as well as the chorus of the Dubliners 'Whisky in the Jar" (although, someone please tell me what the lyrics are. Even looking at lyric sites online they are all different - I found 'whack for my daddy-o' 'Wept for my daddy-o' and my sister thought it was 'back for my daddy-o' ... Who knows?). There was also some Johnny Cash thrown in the mix, some Beatles and a few country songs too.

He couldn't do a concert without featuring some of his musical theatre triumphs which we all know and love him for including Music of the Night, This is the Moment, Some Enchanted Evening and a couple from 'Man of La Mancha' amongst others. We wouldn't let him leave, however, without 'Bring Him Home' (or 'Send Them Home' as Colm cheekily called it) which he left for the final encore, going off stage and returning with his Jean Val Jean jacket on. This was met with frantic approval - the screaming of one lady behind me was almost alarming. He told us an amusing story about when he went to see Forbidden Broadway (if you don't know forbidden Broadway, its an off Broadway spoof show featuring lovingly mocking versions of well loved musical theatre songs -check it out on YouTube!) where they were performing their version of Les Mis. They call the song 'Bring It Down' and of this, he sung us the first few lines -   

God it's high
This song's too high
Pity me
Change the key
Bring it down 
Bring it down

He did continue with the more standard version, however, to the delight of everyone there. When we finally let him leave the stage (after all, he reminded us, he is in a union), it was to a well earned, full standing ovation.

I must also mention his fantastic band and his supporting Irish ladies Siobhan Pettit & Aine Whelan who had very different voices which came together in a nice harmony.

This is one album tour you don't want to miss out on - a true, long-standing professional at work. He moves on to Dublin's Bord Gais theatre next (that theatre name still makes me laugh on so many levels) and has some American and Canadian dates booked for the end of the year. For more information, you can visit the website