Theatre Review: Post Modern Jukebox at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

One word springs to mind when I reflect upon Post Modern Jukebox’s performance at the Glasgow Concert Hall on Wednesday: showmanship.

From the moment that the band jogged excitedly to their positions on the Main Hall stage, the audience were in the palms of their hands, waiting eagerly for the next song to begin every time. What would it be this time? Every track was exciting and fresh, and even better live than on YouTube where hours of takes must be the norm but – better than this – the transitions between each were slick and effortless. Their performance was unlike any other I have had the pleasure of reviewing.

As we all know, You Tube is abundant in cover bands. When Ed Sheeran released his record-breaking album Divide at the beginning of this month, for example, there were already a plethora of Perfect and Supermarket Flowers covers on You Tube within 24-hours. I mean, who can learn and perform a never-heard-before song so quickly? I can’t help but wonder if these bands have secret pre-access to new music material in order to create the illusion of such a quick turnaround.

PMJ aren’t a cover band like the others, though. Working their way backwards through time to amass a repertoire of hits through the ages, they add a refreshing, swing vibe to hits like Stacy’s Mom, My Heart Will Go On, Creep and Oops! I Did It Again to name a few. This approach to music-making carries the risk of cheesiness. Not only this, without much variation over walking basses and 12/8 drum rhythms, the performance risks also being boring and repetitive, with every song sounding similar.

Fortunately, this is not a problem for PMJ. The five-piece band – boasting a trombone, saxophone, grand piano, double bass, drums kit, with several of the musicians doubling up on their duties to bring a clarinet, guitar and short-trumpet to the stage – were joined by an extremely skilled tap dancer whose solos were welcome additions to the performance.You really feel like you are part of the band when you go to see this band live, this band composed entirely of multi-talented and individually respected performers who have joined forces to create a McBusted-style party for our personal viewing pleasure.

Some of the highlights of the night included one lucky member of the audience receiving a strip tease (I will leave you to piece the details of that together yourself), a hall-wide recital of Stacy’s Mom, complete with awful dancing on the audience’s part, and a wonderfully heart-warming sing-along to Flower of Scotland. How thoughtful.

Therefore, in a bid to summarise the sublime nature of this beautiful performance, Scott Bradlee’s Post-Modern Jukebox Live was a thrilling – at times raunchy – experience that can be enjoyed by all members of the family above sixteen. Maybe older.

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