Reviewed by Roger Sharman
Lying in bed last night wondering what I would write about the show, I was churning over and over in my head exactly how I would describe what I’d just experienced. My primary concern was that I would run out of adjectives to use. Whilst having my morning coffee, I started pondering again over what I could write, and then, to quote The Smiths – ‘Well, it suddenly struck me I just might die with a smile on my face after all’.
I have a habit of surveying the crowd when I’m at shows, taking everything in. I must have some gypsy in me as I love to move around soaking everything up, talking to people, seeing different angles of the stage, experiencing different audio qualities, just being a gig sponge really. Last night was no different in that respect. What was extraordinary though was the atmosphere, from the moment Radney walked on stage he owned the audience! The buzz turned to absolute silence in an instant, and from the opening notes of the title track of his latest release ‘For You to See the Stars’ until the closing number, the incredibly beautiful ‘Godspeed’ the crowd was in Radney’s pocket.
From new fans to long-time followers, from young to old, there was not a single person that wasn’t hanging off every word, grinning like the cat who got the cream. The melodies and harmonies were prevalent throughout as is Radney’s entrancing lyricism & sheer ‘straight from the heart’ stories, such an example being :
“Darkness fell on me when I lost my dad
Girl you were the light that got me through
You walked right beside me down that road to hell and back
And in that midnight hour I fell in love with you.”
The tears of sheer emotion flowed, there were gasps of amazement right through to the spell binding California, which really showcased the immense talent of ‘Cousin’ Eddie Heinzelman, Radney’s partner on guitar and backing vocals. This led beautifully into the first of Radney’s short spoken stories from the book that accompanies ‘For You to See the Stars’. The stories really highlight Mr Foster’s incredible talent as a writer, showcasing his knack of succinctly getting his point across, fabling his earlier life and his more recent medical issues. One thing that is evident is that his song writing and his authoring are quite different in style. I would need to read the book in its entirety to make a true and informed opinion of that, but that is not the purpose of this review. However, what I can attest to is he had the audience in hysterics with his wit.
Next, we got the song that Is possibly the most famous of Radney’s hits ‘Raining on Sunday’, covered by Keith Urban, but without the sex appeal that Radney sings this with. There were audible gasps from the audience, who were in total awe by this song. I was one of these people I’ve just described. I had to exit the theatre briefly to collect some Kleenex for all the ladies with tears in their eyes (ok I had to get a few for myself but that’s our secret!). Another of the short stories came before the first single from the album, ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ which reminds me of a thinking man’s ‘Heaven South’.
For the remainder of the show we had crowd favourites such as ‘Half of My Mistakes’, Texas in 1880’, which tore the House down incidentally, the externally beautiful ‘Godspeed (Dulce Suenos) and rounded off by Sycamore Creek, another of the most beautiful tracks that Radney has recorded. There were other interludes between the songs for Radney’s stories.
To sum up this show, I prefer to refer to it as an experience. The thing that immediately springs to mind is that when people think of making love, sexy music or love songs, the names synonymous to these tunes would be Marvin Gaye or Barry White. Let me tell you when Radney Foster writes a love song, it rivals either of those great names. Just ask anyone in that audience, we were all sharing the same emotions and we all left feeling like we had been to ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’.
Roger Sharman (Guest Contributor)