Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show plays Goodwood Racecourse from May 10–15. Phil Hewitt caught up with the show when it played Beaulieu (April 19-23).
It’s not quite yet the finished article, but by the end Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show packs a terrific punch in a party night tribute to the great Neil Diamond.
Brian Conley is a man on a mission in this slightly-strange new show: he’s Brother Love, an ever-zealous preacher convinced that Diamond is the answer to everything.
Which means an opening ten minutes in which the audience sits there wondering what on earth they’ve let themselves in for.
But once it becomes clear that this is basically a concert, you soon settle into a night which explores wonderfully well all the richness of Diamond’s terrific music.
Conley comes and goes, always grabbing the show by the scruff of its neck and giving it the lift it needs. In between times, the four guys (led by Darren Day) and four girls - backed by a 15-piece band - reel off hit after hit.
Here Craig Revel Horwood shows his class as both director and choreographer, endlessly ringing the changes with all the different permutations possible, each time dreaming up half-acted scenarios which give each song some kind of context.
And what songs they are. Somehow you’d expect more of them to be familiar, but in amongst them there are some absolute crackers, Summer Love, You Don’t Bring Me Flowers and Darren Day’s Love On The Rocks among the best.
But time and again it’s Conley who takes the show to the next level, a performer with all the charm and presence that this kind of show demands.
Beaulieu’s first night confronted him with a woefully-small audience packed into seats too tight for comfort; but Conley was undeterred by an audience understandably slow to respond. By the end, with his Neil Diamond megamix, he had everyone on their feet.
Early on, too often the performers seemed to have their backs to the audience - something which needs sorting. But above all, the show needs to ditch its forgettable, lumbering title - a Neil Diamond reference which gives pretty much nothing away to the uninitiated.
Conley brings the house down with I’m A Believer, surely a better title for the show and one which would have stood a better chance of filling up those acres of empty seats.
Tickets for Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show from £21 on 0871 230 7158. For more information, show times and to book tickets online, visit www.BrotherLovesShow.com.