Review: The Roy Orbison Story, Barry Steele and Friends, Ipswich Regent, May 13

Barry Steele and Friends stage The Roy Orbison Story

Barry Steele and Friends stage The Roy Orbison Story - Credit: Archant

This year marks what would have been Roy Orbison’s 80th birthday. Inspired by a life of love and heart break, he’s one of the greatest musicians and songwriters of all time.

As tribute acts go it’s difficult to define this one by the genre it’s meant to fall into. Not because Steele and friends don’t come up to standard as tribute acts go, but because they well and truly exceed it.

Steele himself is extremely unassuming. Off stage he’s a modest and humble man in his demeanour. “Not bad for a Brummie eh”, he commented. You’d be forgiven for assuming he was American up to this point.

On stage he maintains the stance and trademark look while subtly balancing the humour Orbison was so well known for. His vocals are simply unbelievable and quite effortless. You will find yourself questioning whether or not he mimes his whole act. He doesn’t.

With Fiona Ford’s delightful Cilla - You’re My World and Anyone Who Had a Heart were released in 1964 just before Orbison’s It’s Over - and Boogie Williams as the great Jerry Lee Lewis with phenomenal piano skills it’s any wonder the audience could recover from the combined talents of this show.

The three octave voice and unorthodox writing technique of Orbison shone from Steele’s act, continuing hit after hit of Orbison’s catalogue from Sweet Dreams - a hit for Patsy Cline as well, written by the great Don Gibson of whom Orbison was a fan - to the beat dropping Pretty Woman, creating an electric atmosphere remnant of the famous 1988 Night In Black and White.

There can’t have been a dry eye in the house after it’s Too Soon To Know, as footage of Orbison’s wife Claudette, the subject of the song who died in a motorbike accident at 25, played in the background.

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From his early career, his time with the Travelling Willbury’s, duets and collaborations, this show is almost a documentary based on the life of a legend that was thought could not be imitated. Think again.

At the end of the show it was announced Steele and friends will return to the Regent on May 19, 2017. If you miss it, you’ll be Crying.

Mira Shareif