John Barrowman at the London Palladium
John Barrowman is one of the few acts still touring an old-style entertainment show, hovering somewhere between music, comedy and dance. Unfortunately, Barrowman seems unable to excel in any of these areas. The show is ostensibly a celebration of his latest album, Raise Me Up, a collection of original tracks and covers – including the title track – but it feels more like a round-robin detailing the last four years of his life. Anecdotes about his many dogs or stories of his travelling exploits are peppered with the weakest of innuendos, or else end with something vaguely approaching a pun (“my husband has just received his pilot’s licence, so in my house we don’t call it aviation, we call it GAYviation”). These tales of the expected are accompanied by a slideshow comprising of photos from his holidays, selfies with his co-stars and pictures of his new car, just in case anyone thought the show was getting too interesting.
Despite the weakness of the humour and the frankly painful length of the anecdotes, it’s hard to dislike Barrowman. He has an almost palatable charisma, which allows him to smuggle even the most tedious of encounters past the audience with nothing but a winning smile and the occasional raised eyebrow. He has the loveable and cheeky personality of a classic raconteur, though without the material to match.
The musical segments of the evening are far more promising. Interpretations of Enrique Iglesias’ Hero and a selection of Cole Porter classics demonstrate the maturity and range of Barrowman’s voice, as well as the skill of the seven-piece backing band. Less impressive were his self-penned songs, such as the Mumford and Sons-inspired Listen to the Music. Sounding like a cross between Steps’ 5 6 7 8 and Sixpence None the Richer’s Kiss Me, this bizarre attempt at a trans-Atlantic folk song featured some of the most meaningless and ill-fitting lyrics of the night.
The whole show had an air of disappointment, as Barrowman’s repartee and musical performance never quite live up to their potential. This was not a terrible concert, as Barrowman’s unquenchable good spirit and excitement – along with the incredible backing band and spectacular dancers that followed him about the stage – were just about enough to keep the audience entertained, but it was, sadly, far from perfect.
Photos: Erol Birsen
John Barrowman was at the London Palladium for a one-off event, for further information about future events visit here.