April 17 by SEAN HEWITT
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This is the weirdest gig I’ve ever been to and the weirdest review I’ll ever write. The show was performed with astonishing precision and discipline, the visual presentation was top-notch and the repertoire comprised wall-to-wall classics.
But that’s not what you want to hear about. All you want to know is: what was the hologram like?
So, let’s start there. The hologram was amazing, so convincing it seemed that Roy Orbison himself - despite being dead for 30 years now - was in the room. The grey-suited singer moved and tapped his feet in time with the music. He “accidentally” nudged the holographic microphone stand. The fringes on the sleeves of his jacket rippled in the air as he thanked the audience and the musicians, as light seemed to reflect off his Gibson guitar.
So eerie was the phenomenon that I can’t have been the only person in the crowd who spent as long thinking “How the hell are they doing this?” as I did enjoying the astonishing, souped-up versions of Orbison’s hits from all periods of his career (and, just for the record, I still have absolutely no idea how the technology works - there appeared to be a semi-transparent blue screen in front of the musicians and I suspect that had something to do with how “Roy” was projected; then again, that microphone stand didn’t seemed to be projected at all, although it obviously was). Apart from way the figure zoomed down into the stage at the end of every few songs, the only giveaway was the stage lights dimly visible through his translucent body.
Endorsed by the late star’s family, this first-of-its-kind show is certainly a fitting tribute to Orbison’s unique music. From the rousing overture by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, with added electric rock band and backing singer sections, and the atmospheric opening number Only The Lonely to the closing stretch’s I Drove All Night, Oh, Pretty Woman and It’s Over, the audience was rapt.
Along the way we got In Dreams, Crying, Dream Baby, Running Scared, Pretty Paper, The Travelling Wilburys’ hit You Got It and just about everything else. It was stunning, it has to be said. I just wish I knew where it will lead.
In support, The Haley Sisters - Jo-Ann on vocals and bass, Becky on vocals and guitar and Becky’s husband Brian, a phenomenal guitarist - were a stark contrast. Perfectly harmonised vocals and elegant guitar work complemented their unpretentiously skilful covers of the Everlys, Elvis and Simon & Garfunkel, plus a couple of solid originals. It would have been great to hear Orbison sing with them, back in his pre-hologram days. But this show was the next best thing.