Music Review: THE OVERTONES – Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

The Overtones UK Tour 2018

THE OVERTONES take to the stage for the first time as a four-piece to deliver a rocking Christmas show in tribute to Timmy Matley and their loyal fans

It’s been a tough year for THE OVERTONES. Following the tragic and unexpected death of their lead singer Timmy Matley in April, there was a question mark over whether the band would continue to record and tour as a four-piece. But instead of hiding behind their grief, Lockie Chapman, Mike Crawshaw, Darren Everest and Mark Franks have bounced back stronger than ever, recording a brand-new studio album in tribute to their beloved bandmate.

First discovered by a Warner Bros. Records’ talent scout singing during their tea break, THE OVERTONES are a UK based vocal harmony group best known for their distinctive doo-wop style. Their debut album, GOOD OL’ FASHIONED LOVE, propelled to number four in the UK charts and in the past 18 years, the group has sold over a million records worldwide.

THE OVERTONES latest tour sees the group take to their stage for the first time as a four-piece to perform favourites their previous top 10 albums as well as songs from their self-titled sixth album released in October. Opening with a remixed version of Womack and Womack’s TEARDROPS, it’s clear that group are here to party, encouraging the audience to get up and dance, as they belt out tracks from their new album including YOU TO ME ARE EVERYTHING and ROCKIN’ ROBIN.

Those familiar with THE OVERTONES will know that their distinctive vintage-modernist style is what makes them stand out from other vocal harmony groups in the charts. Mixing pre-rock’n’roll classicism with modern pop, rock and R’n’B, the best tracks are those where the group really get to show off their trademark vocal harmonies with RUNAROUND SUE, MY GIRL and SAVE THE LAST DANCE FOR ME particularly standing out on the night. It is here where the voices the individual members come to the forefront with Lockie’s booming bass rounding the group out, playing perfectly against Darren’s falsetto and the mid-range tenors of Mike and Mark.

A poignant tribute to their friend Timmy singing WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME TOMORROW, the last song they recorded together, sees the show take an emotional turn as his picture fills the big screen behind them. This is followed by a version of the Spice Girls’ GOODBYE and I SAY A LITTLE PRAYER both of which don’t leave a dry eye in the house.

But it’s not all a maudlin affair. Despite the oddly placed interval, the group certainly know how to engage with their audience, pointing out that their tour is a celebration of everything that the band has achieved together as they belt out self-penned tracks STAND UP and BY MY SIDE. A few Christmas songs are also thrown into the mix to really get the crowd in the festive mood including HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS, LET IT SNOW and DRIVING HOME FOR CHRISTMAS.

More importantly, THE OVERTONES seem stronger than ever, sharing with the audience that they feel closer to each other in the past 10 months than they have ever felt in the past 10 years, closing the show with the upbeat number LOVE IS IN THE AIR in a poignant tribute to Timmy and their loyal fans.

4 out of 5 stars

THE OVERTONES performed at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall on 10 December and tour nationally until 20 December 2018.