Review: Halfway to Paradise – The Billy Fury Story – The Royal Concert Hall Nottingham

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Ask the current generation who Billy Fury is and they make look at you perplexed.

Play them a couple of tracks, there may be a flicker of recognition from hearing it used on a TV advertisement, yet in the sixties Billy Fury enjoyed a career which celebrated two dozen hit singles. Most of them which were enjoyed by a generation, who remember and refuse to forget, in this musical production.

Performed by his actual backing band from the seventies, Fury’s Tornados, the evening is one of remembrance and nostalgia. A chance to enjoy the hits live and hear stories of the man, his career and their time on the road.

From a similar mould as Elvis, Fury had the smouldering good looks, suggestive dance moves and electric stage presence, all of which hid the true man, one who was actually shy, unassuming and battled with his health right up until his untimely death in 1983 at the age of just 42.

Up until then, despite trying to step out of the spotlight once, Fury continued to write and was still recording. Keen to keep the memory alive, Fury’s Tornados, searched for a performer who could emulate his performance and on stage aura. Their answer came to them one Saturday night, when watching Stars in Their Eyes, Colin Gold delivered that immortal line “Tonight Mathew I’m going to be…” of course, it was Billy Fury and the result, after rehearsing at Mapperley Social Club in Nottingham, is what we see on stage before us. A production which has run for over fifteen years.

Gold appears on stage in a gold jacket, emulating the moves and posture, although I can help but feel that Fury didn’t have a Freddie Starr era, which no matter how I try not to think about, from the distance where our seats are, I can not unsee. Why am I watching the show? Well other than to review it, my Mum was and is a Billy Fury fan. She grew up with his sound and this is not the first time I have seen this particular show or indeed a Billy Fury tribute.

I have seen this show before and for some reason, this time it seems to be lacking a little oomph. I can’t put my finger on way but the first half seems to be going through the motions. It improves in the second part when the musicians actually interact with audience, telling stories of their time with Billy, rather than just the voice we have announcing songs in the first act. Fury’s changing image over time isn’t recognised either. I have seen another act where in the second half Billy lost the quiff and donned the leather. This production seems to plod through his life and seems to lack a little of Fury’s spark.

Fortunately, Gold still possesses the vocal technique and range to dojustice to those classic recordings, from the moody Wonderous Place, to the emotive Halfway to Paradise and the slow, sentimental Maybe Tomorrow.

Each of the backing band Chris Raynor, John Raynor and Graham Wyvill get their moment to shine with their performance but keyboard player Charlie Eston, who was Fury’s musical director is the most interesting with his stories of his time with Fury, and also gives us a solo performance of Nut Rocker

The audience seemed happy and were up on their feet at the end of this performance which is a worthy tribute and keeps the memory alive of one of Britains great pop stars.

By Tanya Louise
Editor

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