Having thrilled the Arena last summer on the “Once In A Lifetime” tour, former 1970s idols The Osmonds returned to an equally rapturous welcome. Were all these respectable (if rather flushed) ladies in their forties (with the occasional sheepish husband in tow) really the screaming, fainting teenyboppers of nearly 35 years ago?
As for the four brothers, each had aged differently.
“Joker” Jay, goateed and tightly waistcoated, bore an inescapable resemblance to Jeremy Beadle. “Crazy” Wayne, his parting shifted noticeably leftwards, was the most visibly elderly – but also the most energetic, radiating enjoyment throughout. As for “Distinguished” Merrill, his sleek silvery mane and thick beard brought Kenny Rogers to mind.
With older brother Alan retired through ill health, and with chief heartthrob Donny enjoying a revitalised solo career, the line-up was completed by the artist formerly known as “Little” Jimmy, who hammed gamely through his hokey childhood hits.
Despite a varied stylistic repertoire – from Motown to country, pop to rock, funky soul to schmaltzy balladry – the brothers’ performance style remained essentially pitched at the same level throughout. The smiles never let up for a minute – and, yes, those famous teeth glowed as brightly as ever.
However, this lack of emotional range meant that at times, especially during the challengingly hit-free second half, the effect was rather like being beaten around the head by a Hallmark greeting card. These guys may briefly have been pop stars – but with 49 years of experience behind them, they remain anchored in traditional showbiz values.