The quality of tribute acts can range from the comically bad to the superlative. It’s therefore a ticket booking often made with trepidation – is the night going to be a fitting tribute to the original act you love so much or will it leave a sour taste in the mouth?
Any George Michael fan need not worry about their memories being tarnished by Fast Love – A Tribute to George Michael. It is a show of the highest quality, which is not surprising given its West End pedigree. An act like this lives and dies by the qualities of the person fronting the whole show and in Joseph Sansome, the resemblance is uncanny. Not only does he look like the real thing, Sansome’s voice is eerily similar to the late George Michael. From the opening lines of Waiting (Reprise), which is sung by an off-stage Sansome, it is clear that we are about to witness a terrific mimic. When he eventually walked onto the stage to the line ‘Here I am!!!!’ the boisterous, but good-natured, audience at the sold-out Blackwood Miners Institute erupted with glee.
Over the course of more than two hours of entertainment, we are treated to a showcase of Michael’s work from his fresh-faced boy band days through to his progression as an elder statesman of the soul, jazz and pop scene. Backed by an incredibly talented five-piece band and backing singers, Sansome delivers hit after hit with barely a pause for breath. On the higher tempo numbers such as Fastlove, Club Tropicana and Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, the already full stage is positively crammed with the addition of a quartet of dancing women.
While the musicianship and attention to detail is deadly serious, there is humour running throughout proceedings. Sansome’s donning of a policeman outfit for the lively rendition of Outside is one example of how this tribute act doesn’t take itself too seriously. The fun is infectious and it is not too long into the set before people are out of their seats and dancing in the aisles.
My only criticism of the show would be with one or two of the songs in the set list. Killer (Papa Was a Rolling) and Too Funky were never favourites of mine from George Michael’s canon. I would have much preferred the inclusion of I Knew You Were Waiting (with the part of Aretha Franklin sung by one of the amazing backing singers) and If I Can’t Make You Love Me as an example of an outstanding cover version by George Michael.
These are minor criticisms and merely down to my personal preferences however. What is not in dispute is that the night was such a triumph that not a single person left the venue without a big grin on their face. Near the start of the concert, Sansome was keen to point out that he was not trying to be George Michael but was “trying to do him proud.” I, and many hundreds of others in the Stute, were pretty sure that he succeeded in that aim by the end of the night.
· Fast Love – A Tribute to George Michael will be coming to Wales again later this year with shows at Porthcawl Grand Pavilion on April 20th, September 21st at Cardiff Motopoint Arena, October 4th at William Aston Hall in Wrecsam and at The Lyric in Carmarthen on November 29. For more details click this link https://entertainers.co.uk/