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Review: Collabro live up to high expectations with superb Ipswich Regent show

PUBLISHED: 13:19 03 March 2016 | UPDATED: 13:19 03 March 2016

Collabro at the Ipswich Regent 2016. Pic: Matt Stott

Collabro at the Ipswich Regent 2016. Pic: Matt Stott

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Collabro returned to the Ipswich Regent facing high expectations after last year's hit show but delivered another captivating and richly invigorating performance at the packed out venue.

Collabro at the Ipswich Regent 2016. Pic: Matt StottCollabro at the Ipswich Regent 2016. Pic: Matt Stott

Only twice have I seen genuine, unprovoked standing ovations at the end of a show at the Regent. And Collabro have been responsible for both of them after belting out huge West End musical showstoppers in glorious, mesmeric harmony. The live orchestra and outstanding production only amplifies the effect.

The 2014 Britain’s Got Talent Winners, a five-member musical theatre boy band who first sang together above a London pub, were performing from their Collabro: Act Two album, which debuted at number two in the UK charts in June last year. It followed their debut number-one album, Stars, the year before.

The show started with a 30-minute set from singer/songwriter AJ Brown, who I would like to describe as a Michael Bublé on a piano. This is a complimentary comparison, as he showcased a smooth and soulful voice during his playlist of original tracks and covers. His take on Justin Bieber’s What Do You Mean hit song was an unexpected but enjoyable listen halfway through, although the mostly older audience may not have recognised this or the other pop songs with which he experimented.

Ipswich was stop number six of Collabro’s 29-date second UK tour and he appeared confident and settled in his role of preparing us for the main act, who ascended to the stage and performed an exquisite rendition of The Circle of Life from The Lion King, the final track from their 10-song Act Two album, to pick up from where they left off last year.

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The first half dipped ever so slightly halfway through in terms of song selection, I thought. No Matter What (from the 1996 musical Whistle Down The Wind; before Boyzone’s 1998 hit version) and the theme song from Friends (I’ll Be There For You by The Rembrandts) were questionable selections for both the album and the tour. I much prefer their West End musical big belters to the, sometimes obscure, pop songs.

After the little dip, they brought it back with Bring Him Home from Les Misérables. But I thought they should have built up to this, maybe in the second half, rather than using it as a launchpad to finish the first half on a high. Still, it was just as moving as last year’s version.

But then came a very strong second half, backed up by young Nottingham soprano Catriona Murray. It began with the orchestra playing the opening sequence to Back To The Future before Collabro appeared and performed Who Wants To Live Forever from We Will Rock You. Then all the big hitters came: I Dreamed A Dream (Les Mis), Music Of The Night (The Phantom of the Opera), Over The Rainbow (The Wizard of Oz) and Memory (Cats).

They have such strong and powerful vocals and when they get it right, which is an extremely high strike rate, it is transcendent. They really do bring the best of the West End to the various towns and cities across the country. They could have just performed last year’s show and I would have been thrilled. Their comedic repartee between songs, such as their Japanese tour surprise post-show meet and greet session, blended perfectly with their set.

They ended with a barnstorming encore of Stars from, once again, Les Mis. They received a deserved rapturous applause and revelled in the acclaim. We will be looking out for their next visit to the town.

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