28 April 2015
Reviewed by Emma Wasson
Last night I went to see The Carpenters Story being hosted at the Grand Opera House in York. The Opera House is always a lovely venue to visit with parking close by at Castle Hill car park and great for its central location in the city. The staff were all very friendly and helpful whilst I was at the Opera House. The bar area was fairly busy when I arrived and everyone seemed in high spirits and there was a great turnout, especially for a Tuesday night.
The Carpenters Story consists of 8 members, these being:
Claire Furley | Lead Singer
Phil Aldridge | Grand Piano and Producer
Jon Bower | Bass Guitar
Ian Latimer | Electric Guitar/Singer
Richard Pardy | Saxaphone/Percussion and various other instruments
Vikki Oliver | Obo/Backing Vocals
Lorraine Kelly | Violin/Backing Vocals
Brent Keefe | Drummer
I absolutely love The Carpenters music and grew up listening to it at home as my mother was a big fan and have very fond childhood memories whenever I hear any of their music. Therefore I was very excited to attend an evening dedicated to The Carpenters music and was not disappointed last night as The Carpenters Story put on an excellent show.
The stage was set up with Claire Furley taking front centre stage during the whole performance with Phil Aldridge to her right on grand piano and Ian Latimer to her left on electric guitar. John Barr was behind her with the remaining musicians on two elevated platforms towards the rear of the stage. At the back of the stage hung above the musicians was a giant screen, which the band used throughout the performance to show video clips, pictures of The Carpenters or various images linked to each song.
The show opened to a video clip from Marshall John from Eagle FM being played on the giant screen, which introduced The Carpenters first song “We’ve only just begun”. The band then begin to play and we heard a voice exactly like Karen Carpenter’s singing in the background, then Claire Furley enters the stage to join her band members to sing the remainder of the song. It is uncanny how much her voice sounds like Karen’s, and was an absolute joy to listen to last night at the Opera House in York.
Phil Aldridge then introduces himself and explains that they will be performing various songs from the late 60s all the way through to the early 80s, which met with a warm reception from the crowd.
The first half of the show included classics such as: “I won’t last a day without you”, “All you get from love is a love song”, “I can’t smile without you”, “A song for you”. Many of which also highlighted the talented musicians on stage, such as Richard Pardy on saxophone as he came to the front of the stage several times during the songs when there was a particular emphasis on his instrument. They also used the radio DJ to tie in nicely and introduce “Calling occupants of interplanetary craft”, and this song concluded the first half of the performance.
The tempo definitely picked up during the second part of the show. Phil and Claire chatted more with the audience, encouraging them to participate with singing, clapping and arm waving. The majority of the crowd had been quite subdued during the first half, however they were definitely more awake and keen to join in singing along with the songs. When Claire first came onto the stage, unfortunately her microphone wasn’t working but Phil managed to fix it fairly quickly. However she did not waver one bit and was very professional and just carried out like nothing had happened.
The second half of the show saw the band members all change outfits, with Claire looking very professional in a black suit with her hair tied back in a bun, whilst the remaining members all had very floral outfits. Claire has an amazing presence on the stage and performs very naturally, smiling throughout. It was clear throughout that she not only has a great passion for The Carpenters songs but possess a huge talent which was demonstrated to the audience last night during all of her renditions of The Carpenters songs.
The second half treated the audience to renditions of “Close to you”, “Desperado” and “Please Mr Postman”, to name but a few, many of which the crowd joined in by singing along.
Towards the end of the second half of the show, Phil introduces all the other band members and each one gets to showcase their own individual talents. I really enjoyed this part of the show as we got to see all of the artists clearly on stage, as the members on the back row do not come out to the front during the performance. It was clear from this section how talented each of the individuals are and it was a joy to listen to. However as far as I could tell none of their individual solos were linked to The Carpenters music, it was lovely but a bit odd.
Once again during many of the songs during the second half, various musicians took to centre stage during specific instrumental parts of the songs, showcasing the individual instruments. These parts were lovely to listen to, especially the saxophone, which is one of my favourite instruments, and played exceptionally well by Richard Pardy.
Phil Aldridge also does an excellent job throughout on the piano, and it’s clear that he also has a great knowledge and passion for The Carpenters music.
The medley at the end of the show was brilliant, including classics such as “Rainy Days and Mondays”, “Only Yesterday” and “Solitaire”, which was very poignant with all the instruments building up to a crescendo. It was clear that the audience didn’t want the show to finish as they clapped the band members back onto the stage for one final rendition of “Say goodbye to love”.
Throughout the show there are various clips shown on a huge screen, depicting a radio DJ from The Carpenters era called Marshall John from Eagle FM. He introduces various songs and gives us a few snippets of information about the Carpenters, but the information is in short supply and doesn’t take you on a journey through their lives. This is the only point that I would comment upon is that the name The Carpenters Story is slightly misleading. It implies that you are going to be taken through Richard and Karen’s lives and given a brief history of their bands journey through the decades and the struggle that Karen underwent with her eating disorder, which ultimately led to her tragic death. I would have liked to have heard a little more description of The Carpenters lives during the show, which I believe would have added a more personal touch to the show. However, having said that this did spoil the evening, it was just not what I was expecting to see.
Overall, Claire Furley was a joy to listen to and not only is an exceptionally talented singer, her voice has an uncanny resemblance to that of the late Karen Carpenter. All the musicians worked exceptionally hard and put on an incredible performance last night and it was a joy to be taken back in time and experience the joys of The Carpenters songs once more. I would definitely recommend this show to others.
The Carpenters Story is currently on tour around the UK, for more information or to book tickets at a venue near your visit www.atgtickets.com/shows/the-carpenters-story.
For other shows at the Grand Opera House in York visit www.atgtickets.com/york.
Grand Opera House York, Clifford and Cumberland Street, York, YO1 9SW | 0844 8713024