Burt Bacharach HHHHH

The Dome, Brighton, Monday, July 9

TAKE a group of talented musicians, add three outstanding vocalists, and put them under the direction of one of the greatest minds in the music industry, and you have one incredible show.

The fact that Burt Bacharach can still get on stage and perform at the age of 90 is something to be truly commended.

Still able to keep pace on the piano and, with the help of his backing singers, make sure the songs are performed with precision and flare, it’s truly a wondrous experience getting to see such a legend of the business in such close proximity.

Over the course of two hours - which is longer than most singers a quarter of his age are on stage - Burt and his band wind their way through some of the all time classics from music past; hits originally performed by the likes of Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Cilla Black and countless others all have the crowd inside The Dome in fine voice.

The crowd itself is predominantly over 50s, which is perhaps to be expected, but it’s heartwarming to see a few younger faces in the audience, having the same great time as their older counterparts.

It is a true testament to how timeless the music composed by Bacharach is.

Despite hailing from Kanasas City, Missouri, Burt has also had quite the affinity with our shores.

This is showcased perfectly when, midway through the performance, he takes off his jacket to reveal an England shirt emblazoned with his name on the back.

He speaks passionately about how nice it has been to tour the country with the Three Lions bringing added joy to the UK following their continued heroics in the World Cup in Russia.

Maybe Burt too believes that football is coming home.

As well as a host of songbook classics that he had a helping hand is, Burt also winds his way through a number of his musical scores; with Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head, from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid goes down the biggest storm.

The Dome proves the ideal surrounding for Burt and his band, which also includes his son Oliver on the keyboard.

Beautiful surroundings and a fantastic stage set up compliment the show perfectly, showing the versatility it has to be able to host a variety of events.

Naturally, a standing ovation is given to Burt and his counterparts as they close out the show.

Having such a storied career, and with more than enough accolades to his name, you’d be forgiven for assuming that Burt may want to sit back and relax with his feet up.

As it stand he’s as vibrant and charismatic as ever, and we can only hope that he’ll continue to entertain crowds the world over for years to come.

Doreen Walker

Martha Reeves and the Vandellas

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Concorde 2, Brighton, Saturday, July 7

FANS turned out in force to pay homage to Motown legends, Martha and the Vandellas this weekend.

It did not matter to the packed audience that the Martha can no longer hold a note and sings off key – this was an exercise in nostalgia and affirmation.

It was enough for most just to be there and to relive such classics as Jimmy Mack, Dancing in the Streets, Nowhere to Run and Heat Wave among a whole back catalogue of hits.

Dressed in glamourous red sequined frocks, the enthusiasm of the three singers belied their ages and the sweltering temperature at the venue during the hour long set.

Martha has achieved a lifetime of awards - Dinah Washington Award, a Rhythm n’ Blues Foundation Pioneer Award, a Black Woman in Publishing Legends Award, and has been inducted in the Alabama, Soul, Rock and Roll, and Vocal Group halls of fame.

In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked the group in their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

To keep things fresh, the band have surrounded themselves some outstanding backing musicians – including keys and a four section brass line up - which went a long way to making up for the fading vocals.

For those who weren’t there during the 60s, the band achieved 25 hit records and millions of sales in a ten year period during the height of their fame.

As one critic recently put it, Martha remains an ultimate Motown diva with soul flowing from the tips of her toes to the last hair on her head.

The range and clarity may be lost but the charisma and style remain – as well as an enduring respect between the band and the audience. It will take more than years to knock them off their perch.

Philip Noble