Mike Atkinson

John Barrowman – Nottingham Royal Concert Hall, Wednesday April 9

Posted in gigs, Nottingham Post, Royal Concert Hall by Mike A on April 9, 2008

Witnessing first-hand the squeals of female delight which greeted his every move, I suddenly realised that John Barrowman might be something unique: an openly gay heartthrob, whose unequivocal frankness merely adds to his appeal. If that sounds like a contradiction, then it’s certainly not one which bothered either the artist or his adoring audience, whose tangible rapport was wonderful to behold.

Drawing on his long experience in musical theatre, Barrowman delivered a highly accomplished performance, mixing pop standards and favourite show tunes with sparky quips and occasionally tear-jerking personal stories, all with the total self-assurance of a seasoned professional.

Although a gifted musical interpreter, Barrowman was canny enough to realise that, in his new incarnation as a Saturday night prime time TV regular, he would have to up the cheese factor: Barry Manilow numbers, Latino rump-shakers, I Am What I Am histrionics, the works.

Occasionally, he overstepped the mark: an over-familiar Amarillo was an end-of-the-pier gesture too far. But for the most part, the balance between showmanship and song craft was ably struck.

Highlights for the music lovers included fine renditions of Nina Simone’s Feelin’ Good and I Won’t Send Roses (from Mack and Mabel). Highlights for the fans included special appearances from Captain Jack’s greatcoat and the Elvis outfit from Dancing On Ice.

Who cared if the outfits got the bigger cheers? Certainly not the ebullient Barrowman, whose infectiously gleeful determination to make the absolute most of his “moment in the sun” may be his biggest asset of all.

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