April 10, 2018 by Kirsten Rawlins
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The opening notes of Oh, Pretty Woman signaled the start of the Birmingham show, as curtains opened revealing The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and pictures of Roy appeared on screens either side of the stage showing the icon through the years.
The world-renowned music icon rose through what appeared to be a hole centre-front of the stage, surrounded by beams of light and dressed in a grey suit with fringed sleeves, black sunglasses and black shirt.
As the show kicked off with the hologram singing Only The Lonely alongside the full orchestra, it was clear no expense had been spared on the figure of Roy; with light reflecting off his guitar and sunglasses, and a glimmer of the spotlight bouncing off his thick, black hair. The attention to detail was tremendous - even down to the sway of the fringes on his sleeves with every movement.
Some extent of character was even injected into the hologram, with Roy thanking the audience as they applauded him, and the star turning to the orchestra as its many talented members played the opening sequences to his array of beautiful hits. Even the smallest of detail such as Roy adjusting his glasses and scratching his nose added a charming aspect of reality.
Roy’s sons created the show, expertly stripping back the idol’s vocals, which were then played alongside the music of the orchestra. And the sound quality as a result was outstanding, as the star’s clear, booming, rich and totally unique voice rose above the many instruments.
The orchestral innovation, also released in the form of album A Love So Beautiful in November last year, is a completely new and different approach to Roy’s traditionally guitar-led tracks - and it has been done very well. Having said that, however, I certainly prefer the original rock ‘n’ roll-style Roy; but that’s just down to personal preference.
Nevertheless, I found myself inexplicably mesmerised by the show last night; unable to take my eyes off the hologram, feeling like I wanted to draw in every last drop of the figure of Roy as his velvety vocals poured over the crowd.
And I wasn’t alone: fans across the arena could be heard whispering about the wonder of the production throughout the evening - when they weren’t singing along to the many hits, including In Dreams, Dream Baby, Running Scared and Blue Angel, that is.
At one point in the show, Roy nodded to the crowd and disappeared down the rabbit hole in the stage, followed by the screens either side of the arena lighting up and showing video tributes from an array of stars who have worked with the icon, including Bono; the late, great Tom Petty; The Blues Brothers’ Steve Cropper; and Brummie rocker Jeff Lynne.
Though the sentiments were all lovely, my favourite came from Roy’s Travelling Wilbury’s colleague Tom Petty.
“He’d lean over and say I’ve got some cherry cokes for later - like it was contraband or something,” smiled The Heartbreakers singer.
Top hits including Uptown, Mean Woman Blues, Pretty Paper, and You Got It followed, before the tremendous show was drawn to a close with I Drove All Night and Oh, Pretty Woman.
Though I can only assume seeing Roy in the form of a hologram is really a far cry from having seen the legend perform in person, last night’s performance was a testament to the magic of technology and certainly got me closer to the Texan idol than I thought would ever be possible - and I loved every second.
Roy may have reached the End Of The Line, but its clear his legacy still very much lives on through his Lovestruck fans.