Forum Theatre – 9th July 2022.
Reviewed by Courie Amado Juneau
The Carpenters Story is (as the flyer announces) “a musical journey through the glittering career of pop’s most famous brother and sister duo”. And that is exactly what you get!
The stage is a minimalist affair with the band performing in front of two large photos of Richard and Karen and a large video screen where a faux Radio Presenter began by giving us some background to the show and songs, including some truly hilarious news snippets for context of the Carpenters times (you could substitute Nixon for Johnson to bring that right up to date). This was a real bonus – complimenting the on stage action but never getting in the way of the reason we were there; the songs.
Where else to start but “We’ve Only Just Begun” and what a clever move to have Karen on the screen “singing” so that we could be fooled into thinking it was her we were listening to. In fact our lead vocalist tonight, Claire Furley, was already on stage, unlit, ready to be revealed by the spotlight showing just how good (and Karen like) she is! Beyond her gorgeous voice, it was a joy to see Claire thoroughly enjoying herself and the music so much. Her beautiful smile was infectious.
Phil Aldridge, Musical Director and pianist (ably filling Richard’s shoes), has a natural humor and was a very personable host. I particularly enjoyed his personal anecdotes which show how much he loves the music we are here to celebrate.
As you would expect, the hits just kept on coming and coming. In fact, there’s so many to be squeezed in that a medley of tunes was needed, so that we could have at least a snippet of those much cherished songs. A really well thought out set list, displaying a care and attention to detail (and to the fans) that is a credit to the show
The band was top notch and was proudly presented by Phil, giving each musician a moment in the spotlight to wow us (which they did). I’ll be honest, the saxophone has never been my favourite but Lynne Walker has opened my eyes to the breathtaking beauty of the sax. She also played flute and percussion and was simply sensational!
Perhaps the highlight of the show was “I Need To Be In Love”, Karen’s favourite song, presented in its original piano and vocal version which was very moving indeed. A fitting tribute. Then, aptly “Goodbye To Love” brought the set to its very much unwelcome close – as the multiple standing ovations attested to, we could have happily gone on all night! That the performers didn’t try to look like the carpenters and kept the presentation simple was a perfect approach – this was all about the music and was all the better for it. A sheer delight from start to finish and one that I cannot wait to catch next time they are near. Truly a show to make one feel on “Top Of The World”.