Almost forty years after his first UK number one, Shakin’ Stevens still knows how to entertain an audience but vocally struggles to pull off some of his biggest hits
Mention the name Shakin’ Stevens and MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE will most likely spring to mind. But outside of his Christmas number one, the Welsh singer-songwriter actually has more than 33 Top 40 hit singles under his belt, making him the UK’s biggest-selling singles artist of the 1980s.
Nearly forty years later, Stevens – born Michael Barratt – is still making music and entertaining audiences as he takes to the stage for GREATEST HITS AND MORE. As the tour name suggests, Stevens’ latest show sees the platinum-selling artist take to the stage to perform his greatest hits as well as tracks from his 12th studio album ECHOES OF OUR TIMES.
Bounding onto the stage in a dapper black suit and prescription sunglasses, Stevens may look more like Bryan Ferry than Elvis these days but he clearly still knows how to engage an audience. Opening with HOW COULD IT BE LIKE THAT followed by TURNING AWAY and early track GIVE ME YOUR HEART TONIGHT, Stevens obviously still loves performing, grinning and pointing to the crowd as he belts out hits like YOU DRIVE ME CRAZY and Eighties B-side YOU NEVER TALKED ABOUT ME.
An oddly placed interval after an enthusiastic performance of CRY JUST A LITTLE BIT sees the energy and tone of the evening to dip a little, particularly when Stevens returns to perform lesser-known tracks from his 2016 ECHOES OF OUR TIMES album including SUFFER LITTLE CHILDREN, DOWN INTO MUDDY WATERS and THE FIRE IN HER BLOOD.
At 71, Stevens also isn’t as vocally strong as he used to be and whilst there is still power in his voice, on more than one occasion he fails to hit the high notes and is occasionally off-key, leaning a little too much on his nine-piece band and two backing singers to widen the sound and cover his vulnerabilities.
That said, the audience didn’t seem to bother, shouting out for him to perform his biggest hits and cheering and whooping as he pulls off the classic Shaky knee tremble pose on stage. Everyone is also on their feet for the material that made him famous including LIPSTICK, POWDER AND PAINT, A LETTER TO YOU, a bluesy reworking of GREEN DOOR and a clever mash-up of MARIE, MARIE and OH JULIE.
By the time he returns for his two-song encore of THIS OL’ HOUSE and the Elvis-in-Vegas style anthem FIRE DOWN BELOW, the message is clear: Elvis may be long gone but Stevens is still shakin’.
Shakin’ Stevens GREATEST HITS AND MORE played the Bridgewater Hall on 19 March and tours nationally until 24 March 2019
Donna is the Founder and Editor of Frankly, My Dear UK. By day, she works as a digital marketing specialist, by night she reviews film, theatre and music for a wide range of publications including WhatsonStage and The Reviews Hub. Loves Formula 1, prosecco and life.