Carrie Underwood with The Shires.

Sunday 30th June 2019, tonight I’m at the Motorpoint in Cardiff City Centre, to watch Carrie Underwood live in concert, with support from the Shires.

First off The Shires with a superb 40 minute set. Ben and Chrissie were the perfect warm up act, also my favourite band in Britain, (along with Ward Thomas). They really got the crowd on their feet, playing all their classic upbeat songs, along with ‘Daddy’s little girl’, sung so beautifully by Chrissie, which brought a few tears to my eyes.

I’ve seen these guys 4 times now, they just get better and better with every performance. Ben and Chrissie just have outstanding voices and combine so well together on all the songs they have written and performed. The audience agreed, giving them a standing ovation. Tonight their set went so quickly, could have listened to these guys all night, really can’t wait to see them again on their next tour. The perfect start to a fabulous evening’s entertainment.

Next up Carrie Underwood, and the first thing you notice was her incredible voice. Her set lasted about a hour and half, her voice was as good at the end as it was on her first number. For me that’s the sign of an excellent vocalist doing an amazing job. I was so impressed with the show and the superb standard of Carrie and her band, musicians of the highest order, never putting a foot wrong throughout and treating a jam packed audience to an incredible night of music.

One of the highlights was when Carrie bought on a local singer from South Wales to sing ‘The Champion’ with her, a young girl called Caitlin, who was outstanding, getting a huge ovation from the audience.

I have to admit I only knew a fraction of the songs played tonight, but when you have a voice as good as Carrie’s you quickly fall into the mesmerising nature of the music played before you. Pure class sums it up perfectly.

The whole night was really special for me, showcasing some of the best voices in popular music today. Watching The Shires again and the rare chance to see Carrie Underwood I’m Cardiff was just superb, a truly amazing night, one I will never forget in my lifetime.

Ward Thomas.

Monday 4th March 2019, different venue tonight, I’m at St David’s Hall in Cardiff City Centre for a performance with the absolutely superb ‘Ward Thomas’ along with another great band, ‘The Wandering Hearts’. Two extremely wonderful acts in their own right.

First up is ‘The Wandering Hearts’ with a superb 30 minute set full of some amazing recordings. The three lead voices are so good to listen to live, very distinctive singers with the two girls sending out wonderful harmonies in their routine, culminating in ‘Devil in Disguise’ one of my favourite songs of the past few months. Didn’t want them to end, they were just so good. Look forward to another opportunity to watch this band grow and hopefully tour again in the next few years

Along with the Shires, Ward Thomas are my two favourite recording artists of the present day. Both bands style of music is just exceptional, giving the country scene a huge lift for the uk.

You have to see these two sisters live, they are better than the cd’s they make. Exceptional voices brought together to give us some pretty amazing songs. The night went so quick, you felt they could have gone on singing all night, and if they did I would have stayed and just relaxed In their presence, enjoying just how brilliant they were. They seem to sing effortlessly, creating some phenomenal harmonies between them, with their distinctive beautiful voices.

The girls performed most of their set showcasing the superb new album ‘Restless Minds’, while throwing in a sample of their recent material, from time to time. Highlights of the set seeing the girls duetting with guitars, totally showing just how incredible and together they are, really saying to the audience this is how to sing on total harmony, beautiful just beautiful, must admit to a few years of joy during this section.

Really enjoyed the whole night, stunning singing throughout, superb work from the backing bands. An evening of two awesome performances.

Brendan Cole – Showman.

Sunday 3rd March 2019, after loads of volunteering at the Millennium Centre, I’m back in Cardiff Bay for the evening to watch the brilliant ‘Brendan Cole’. It’s amazing to sit and watch these professional dancers in action, live on stage, the speed of movement and gracefulness they accomplish, as they glide over the floor, is a sheer delight to watch.

Joined by a brilliant live Band on stage, and a Violinist for the first time in the superb Brigitta Bognar, with band leader Barry Robinson, along with two fabulous vocalists in Iain Mackenzie and Jenna Lee James. Great to see a local school girl choir taking the stage to join this impressive cast.

The Dancing was excellent, the music and singing were totally incredible, a superb array of costumes for all the dancers, just made an incredible spectacle, which Brendan always delivers on the many occasions I’ve seen his shows.

The stage was huge with brilliant sound and lighting rigs dotted around. In all a fantastic night, enjoyed totally from a very enthusiastic audience.

Jersey Boys (2nd Performance).

Saturday 26th January 2019, back in Cardiff Bay at the Millennium Centre for the final performance of ‘Jersey Boys’ at this venue before it moves on. Absolutely love this musical, so much superb music and classic songs, all squished into a two and a half extravaganza.

The story of the rise of ‘Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons’ is fascinating to watch, as they weren’t exactly angels growing up, although the musical has shared its time with more of the great music they produced, adding in snippets of their private lives without inundating the audience with too much detail on their outside lives. A well balanced show in other words. I also love the way the individual band members have their say on what happens next, on their rise to the ‘Hall of Fame’.

The CD of the show is excellent and worth a listen to, but as with all others, watching the show live on stage gives it more impetus and fills in the bits between songs. A musical that can be watched again and again as it just gets better with each viewing.

Yet again another fabulous performance tonight, can’t believe it’s over already, still I’ve managed to have the opportunity to watch a great musical at a great theatre. Totally love this show, looking forward to the next tour already.

Jersey Boys.

Saturday 19th January 2019, and another musical comes to the Millennium Centre here in Cardiff Bay, tonight see’s the return of ‘Jersey Boys’ for a couple of weeks.

Featuring the fabulous music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, which just happens to be one of my favourite bands of all time, this musical is packed full of classic songs, performed by a great cast. I particularly love the build up to ‘Sherry’ with the Piano intro before the guys get into this classic song. Along with Sherry comes another of my all time favourite pieces of music, ‘December 63’ which is high up in my all time top 50, and happens to be sung brilliantly by this talented cast.

With the superb on stage band playing their instruments live to accompany the cast singers really adds to the feel of this Musical, making it more autobiographical, as the boys go through their history as everyday people and musical artists.

Michael Watson who plays Frankie Valli has a tremendous voice and sounds so much like the great man himself, if you closed your eyes you would swear he was in the room.

Fabulous show again tonight, they just keep coming and getting better every time

Matilda (6th Performance).

Saturday 12th January 2019, back for the final performance of ‘Matilda’ as it finishes its run at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay, before heading for its next venue.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching this incredible show over the lead up to Christmas and the New Year. Another musical to add to my growing repertoire of shows seen at Theatres over the last six years.

The all important cast line up for this final show in Cardiff can be seen in the caption below.

There are so many amazing scenes during this magical production, that keep you enthralled from start to finish, but there is one part of one scene that gets me every time. It’s when Miss Honey attempts to get some advanced books for Matilda to look at, it lasts about 20 seconds but it’s so beautiful it makes the whole show come together. Matilda gives Miss Honey a massive hug, Miss Honey’s response is so beautiful, her voice just becomes so tender and heart warming. It’s another piece that has to be seen in the auditorium, for me it’s a game changer, a moment of sheer brilliance and magic. Another piece of pure brilliance is the ending, again so beautifully done and extremely heart warming, a second touch of brilliance at the end of each act.

Once more another fabulous performance from all the cast tonight, a fitting end to the production in Cardiff before its move to Plymouth for the next stage of its UK Tour.

Matilda (5th Performance).

Saturday 5th January 2019, my first show performance of the new year, back at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay for my fifth showing of ‘Matilda’.

My last blog concentrated on the music and songs of Act One, today I’d like to look at the music and songs from Act Two. Starting with ‘Telly’, sung by Mr Wormwood and his Son, an audience oriented piece which is funny and quirky and leads us into the start of Act Two, and one of the best songs in the show.

‘When I Grow Up’ is a fabulous piece sung by the Ensemble casts, ending with a short duet between Matilda and Miss Honey. Visually impressive and beautifully sung by all involved and getting the second half of the show off to a great start.

Next up is ‘I’m Here’, a duet sung by Matilda and aided by the voice of the Escapologist. Another superb song highlighting the voice of Matilda as she sings side by side with her duetting partner. This leads nicely on to the best song that Miss Trunchbull has the pleasure to sing.

‘The Smell of Rebellion’ is yet another piece of music superbly written and visually impressive to watch. The lyrics speed up as the song moves on, giving the actor playing the role some tongue twisting dialogue. The song changes in mid flow, giving a serene and relaxing experience to an energetic song, before hitting a crescendo towards the end. This has to be seen live to give the music and lyrics it’s worth to the show.

The scene moves quickly on to include another beautifully sung piece of music, which happens to be another of my favourites in this musical. ‘Quiet’ is a solo piece that Matilda has to sing while Miss Trunchbull is on the warpath. Yet again we hear the beautiful and innocent voice of Matilda sweeping through the Auditorium.

We then get onto my favourite song in the show, ‘My House’, another beautiful piece of music sung by Miss Honey. Her voice on this track is just exquisite, I must admit to a few falling tears when I listen to this.

The final song if Act Two is ‘Revolting Children’, Sung by the Children’s Ensemble to start and followed up by the adults to end it. Another fantastic piece in the show as they finally get rid of Miss Trunchbull, and the pupils celebrate.

The show ends with a reprise of ‘When I Grow Up’, as the whole cast take their bows, with an enormous cheer as Matilda takes to the stage, and so well deserved.

Matilda (4th performance).

Saturday 29th December 2018, my last show for this year, and it’s at the Millennium Centre here in Cardiff Bay to watch my 4th performance of ‘Matilda’.

I’ve talked about how brilliant this cast is so I’d like to move on to the music and songs for the show, written by Tim Minchin. Act one begins with ‘Miracle’ sung by the children’s ensemble at first until the adult Ensemble come in later in the piece. A great introduction to the proceedings as it gives the audience a chance to assess all the Ensemble cast working together.

Next up we have ‘Naughty’, and a chance to here the voice of Matilda as she sings her first solo piece of the musical, a cracking little song, always sung brilliantly by the Matilda appearing in that performance, tonight was the turn of Nicola Turner, who was outstanding in the role.

The scenes move quickly to the next piece entitled ‘School Song’ which is sung by the both Ensembles as school children, another great song which is far better watching live on stage than the CD would suggest, involving the school gates and some letters, a really fancy creative piece and choreographed to perfection.

‘Pathetic’ appears next on the playlist when we get to here the beautifully stunning voice of ‘Miss Honey’ (Carly Thoms). This piece moves onto the entrance of Miss Trunchbull, a rather fearsome headmistress, and the first song of her repertoire, ‘The Hammer’ another piece where we first get to hear the singing voice in action, quite impressive it is too, lots of action involved, a very energetic song to go with it.

Next up is a song to broadcast the voice of Mrs Wormwood, with ‘Loud’ a dance spectacle with her and Rudolpho. Yet another energetic song written to make the actors work for their money. Another song better seen live than the CD would suggest.

Just after ‘Loud’ we have another brilliant song, sung by Miss Honey entitled ‘This Little Girl’, about Matilda and how special she is. This is a short piece of music but again really beautifully sung, and one of my favourites within the show.

The final song of act one is simply entitled ‘Bruce’, as we see the cake eating scene brought to life. Another superbly written song, choreographed and sung by the children’s ensemble. Yet another song needed to be seen live on stage to appreciate the intricacies of the scene.

The cast for tonight’s performance appears in the caption below.

Matilda (3rd performance).

Christmas Eve 2018, back at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay for my third performance of ‘Matilda’, during its run in the Welsh Capital over the next few weeks.

Yet another superb show graces the halls of the Centre. I’m loving it so far, and quickly entering the catagory as one of my favourite musicals, joining a long list of shows already included.

The all important cast list for today’s performance appears in the caption below.

A very impressive performance from everyone today, especially Nicola Turner as Matilda, who I last saw playing the small boy role in Billy Elliot a few years ago. I’ve now seen three different Matilda’s and they have all been amazing. So much talent for one so young, as I’ve said all along the future of theatre is in safe hands with these youngsters. One other to mention is the role of Bruce, played brilliantly today by Tom Lomas, a great voice, especially on the last song of the show ‘Revolting Children’, yet another talent for the future.

Matilda (2nd performance).

Saturday 15th December 2018, back in Cardiff Bay on a miserable wet day to watch another performance of ‘Matilda’ at the Millennium Centre. Even this terrible weather cannot dampen the spirit of watching this fabulous show.

looking at the cast list it’s nice to see a few familiar faces making a return to the Centre, a few of them appeared in the touring production of Billy Elliot, including Isobelle Chalmers who played the young boy (in Billy Elliot), and is now one of the young actresses playing Lavender in this show. Seeing so many shows it’s brilliant to be able to watch these youngsters growing up, so to speak, and appearing in different shows as their stage careers progress, just look at where Carrie Hope Fletcher is now. These amazing shows give these youngsters a chance to shine and most of them take that chance.

Again I have to reiterate just how good these kids are in this show. Matilda’s (tonight played by Scarlett Cecil) role is almost non stop, with some complicated lines to learn, but they just role them out as if they were talking to you over dinner. I think that’s why this show is so good, the kids take centre stage and just thrive on it, going from strength to strength as they progress. The applause for these young actors and actresses at the end of the show, goes to prove that.

Let’s move on to the adults with Miss Trenchbull, a fabulous role, with a menacing presence throughout, wonderfully played by Graige Els or recently Steffan Lloyd-Evans has taken the role. Brilliant to watch on stage as well. Also nice to see Dawn Williams back at the Centre, (her last few visits have been in Mamma Mia and Shrek).