What: Movin’ Melvin Brown – Chuck Berry Lives
Where: National Wine Centre
Duration: 70 minutes
(Reviewed by John Glennie)
Movin’ Melvin Brown is a regular at The Fringe, usually does a couple of different shows and never disappoints. I cannot confirm for sure, but I believe he is in his mid-70s and he is amazing! He performs tap-dancing, talks about Chuck Berry’s life and sings his most famous songs – and he also including some of Melvin’s own songs.
The energy of Melvin is incredible – how he can get up and talk and sing normally after a vigorous tap dance is beyond me! He has the audience going from the moment he hits the stage with Memphis Tennessee right through the classics including Johnny B. Goode and Roll Over Beethoven. He also does a great medley using Reelin’ and Rockin’ as the theme which included Nadine, Oh Carol and Maybelline – hinting at Chuck’s fondness of women!
The crowd were on their feet for There Was A Time When We Used To Dance where he had us doing the Twist, the Swim, the Monkey, the Gorilla and back to the Twist.
The 4-piece band gave excellent support for Melvin with Melvin’s tap dancing providing a lot of the rhythm. His manager, Francesca and another young African-American girl were back-up singers – we both thought he would have been much better off without them as, hate to say it, but they were pretty terrible! They yelled rather than sang and were seldom on key. As we left the show, we heard many other comments along the same lines! Melvin also has an infectious chuckle but that is grossly overdone too. After the first few minutes we were “over” the chuckle but were subjected to it several times between every song!
We both love Movin’ Melvin Brown and will gladly see him when he comes back – but trim the chuckles back a lot and either dump the backing vocals or get some real singers. Aside from that, it really is a must-see show which will appeal to all ages – and put your dancing shoes on!