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ConcertsKerry Ellis & Brian May @ Town Hall, Birmingham, UK 06/24/2013

Posted on Wednesday, June 26 2013 @ 15:28:56 CDT by Dean Pedley
General These days you are far more likely to find Brian May on daytime television championing the plight of the nations badgers as opposed to wielding his trademark Red Special. But the self proclaimed saviour of our furry friends is still finding time in his life for music, his ongoing collaboration with West End singing sensation Kerry Ellis having spawned studio and live albums and a couple of UK tours. The evening was billed as 'Acoustic by Candlelight' but the Health & Safety jobsworths at Birmingham City Council threw a spanner in the works, ensuring the candles on the stage remained unlit and artificial substitutes were used in their place.

Before May and Ellis took to their stools the sold out crowd witnessed three anti badger cull videos, each of which was amusing in its own way but sent a very clear message to the government that the fight goes on. Ellis' rich, evocative and extraordinary voice soared around the Town Hall on the opening 'I Who Have Nothing' with May giving a wry smile as he fluffed the final note. Cover versions where varied and inspired in their choice and execution, from the fragile 'Dust in the Wind' and Beatles deep cut 'Tell Me What You See' to a dramatic 'The Way We Were' and sing-a-long 'Knocking on Heavens Door'. Ellis made her name in the show Wicked and May briefly left the stage as she and keyboardist Jeff Leach performed the musicals 'I'm Not That Girl'.

Inevitably the Queen songs each received huge ovations, 'Somebody to Love' is given the full soulful, gospel treatment and a poignant image of Freddie Mercury is displayed during the reflective 'Life Is Real'. Ellis and May breathed new life into Mercury's piano led tribute to John Lennon that was hidden away amongst the funk and disco of 1982's Hot Space. The Red Special (or the 'Old Girl' as May now refers to her) was dusted off for guitar showcase 'Last Horizon' that included just enough of the 'Brighton Rock' solo to being the die-hards down the front to their feet. 'Tie Your Mother Down' became a hillbilly stomp and everyone was encouraged to stamp, clap and cheer along for a rabble rousing 'We Will Rock You'.

The chemistry and mutual respect between Ellis and May is apparent throughout and what may at first appear to be an unlikely partnership is clearly resulting in some memorable moments for all concerned. The show at Town Hall overflowed with powerful and emotional vocals combined with magical guitar playing from one of Classic Rock's true greats.

I Who Have Nothing
Dust in the Wind
Born Free
Somebody to Love
Tell Me What You See
Nothing Really Has Changed
Life is Real (Song for Lennon)
The Way We Were
I'm Not That Girl
If I Loved You
Last Horizon
Knocking on Heavens Door
Tie Your Mother Down
We Will Rock You
The Kissing Me Song
No One but You (Only the Good Die Young)
Crazy Little Thing Called Love

Review by Dean Pedley

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