Déjà vu . . .
One Brother Rue liked the Bee Gees – Barry and younger twins Robin and Maurice Gibb. Pop musicality personified. He may have preferred The Beatles, Stones, Kinks, The Who, Dylan but he liked the Bee Gees too, who came along a little later.
Among the Gibb brothers’ prolific gifts was composing and singing catchy, melodic, sometimes hauntingly memorable songs with their hooks centred around falsetto-enhanced three-part harmonies.
It was a welcome, novel variation to the monotonous – oh, all right then, ‘hypnotic’ – disco beat back in the day. The other Brother Rue tried disco but found tight plastic trousers rather too restricting so waited to embrace the punk era with more panache.
The Bee Gees actually made disco interesting, from the minute ‘You Should Be Dancing’ was released in 1976, through ‘Stayin’ Alive’ in ’77 (which Barry says has 103 beats per minute – the exact bpm used to revive somebody suffering a heart attack) and ‘Night Fever’ in ’78 and on to – according to some – The Disco Demolition in Chicago in July 1979. But in any case, the disco genre was pretty much dead and buried by 1980.
Of course, the Bee Gees moved onward and upward after disco, performing, composing, winning awards (only Elvis, Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks, The Beatles and Paul McCartney have sold more records), giving their last performance as a trio in 2002.
But! Their disco legacy lingers and from the very first few chords of the ‘UK Bee Gees Tribute Band’ performance at the Radisson Blu on Thursday last, it became immediately apparent that the music of the much-loved trio is very much alive, well and (almost) kicking, creating great excitement still.
With couples and clusters of aficionados stepping their rhythmic way forward through the tables, sea of arms aloft, lefting-and-righting in time to the beat of opening number ‘You Should Be Dancing’ they eagerly sought, below the band, to relive (albeit more genteelly) those dance-floor moves of yesteryear.
Lucky, opined one Brother Rue who shall remain nameless, there were no pre-teen daughters present to cringe with embarrassment at Dads’ efforts to look as cool as they thought they did way back then, in the olden days.
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So rekindle the embers of youth they did, and the Mums, through each of the two 45-minute sets, stayin’ alive collectively within their comfort-zones and with nary a hint of Barry’s 103 bpm being needed. In fact, it occurred to us that exercise classes for the over-50s would be so much more willingly entertained and fun if performed to Bee Gees disco . . . two sets of 45 minutes each with a warm-down between and afterwards singing falsetto in a cold shower.
Barry – we mean Tony (Bowler) – looked, sang, talked, moved and played guitar exactly like his alter ego. Tony has been Barry Gibb from the beginning of his calling 15 years ago, after he stood in for a no-show girl backing singer and found himself effortlessly singing falsetto.
It was but a short disco hop from there to impersonating Barry at venues in the USA, Pakistan, Egypt, Malta, all over the UK and sometimes for supporting acts such as Showaddywaddy, Boney M, Slade, Hot Chocolate and Sister Sledge.
The twins have come and gone a bit over the 15 years but Joe (Jose) Valdes Vilar, who became Robin about a year ago and Mark Boden as Maurice were every bit as convincing as Barry – we mean Tony – in their looks, trademark dry humour, dress, posture, mannerisms, movement and, of course, that unique, compelling sound.
Before, during and after the sets the ageless, appreciative audience was sustained by a hugely enjoyable and lavish buffet overseen by the Radblu Cheffery as usual.
On offer were make-your-own Caesar Salads and half a dozen others (including Waldorf, naturally). Starters included smoked salmon and potted baby shrimps mousse and soups – and thence to the Carving Station with Beef Wellington and roast beef with all the trimmings.
If you could manage a Mr. Pickwick there were beef and mushroom pies at the Pie Station and a hot buffet table as well with Cajun shrimp casserole, chicken à la king, herb-crusted salmon fillets and more.
A profusion of desserts awaited, too, although many, including Brothers Rue, had fallen along the wayside long before the mouth-watering dishes could be contemplated.
Once again, Ray McRobbie and Team Radblu got it bang on – they really do have their collective finger on the expat pulse – with a happy, almost packed ballroom, excellent food accompanied by Nederberg red and white, attentive but unobtrusive service and, last week, the greatly appreciated ‘UK Bee Gees Tribute Band’.
They were the Bee Gees and, supported by the faultless drumming and percussion of Tony’s mate of 30 years, Terence Wilson, what unites them, perhaps more than the Brothers Gibb themselves were united, is their sincerity of purpose – to keep alive the distinctive Bee Gee sound, look and feel by recreating the excitement generated by one of the biggest bands in pop music history.
At the Radisson Blu, imitation really was the sincerest form of flattery.
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