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Thursday, September 20th 2007

8:53 PM

A GRAND COME BACK

(FROM BLACKPOOL GAZETTE)

Joe Longthorne
Joe Longthorne
From travelling stock, it's always been a case of wherever he lays his hat is his home – and for the last 10 years or so that's been Blackpool and the Fylde.
So it’s only right and fitting that Joe Longthorne should be one of the first performers to help celebrate the recently refurbished Grand Theatre with a run of three weeks.

Or is it the Grand Theatre celebrating Joe Longthorne? It’s always been difficult to tell because it’s clearly a mutual love affair.

The theatre is the ideal size for a performer who thrives on being within touching distance of his fans – and his fans are clearly delighted to be able to pay homage up close and personal to the man most of them have followed through thick and thin, through sickness and in health.

At the moment Joe is somewhere between the two – thankfully much better than he was but clearly not yet physically firing on all cylinders.

At times he’s as shaky on his pins as he is on his local geography but not that he gives that away with his vocal delivery. From the opening Somewhere to the closing Impossible Dream he’s still up there with the greatest the country has produced – and even though these days he rightfully gives his own voice much more of a showcase the fans would feel short changed if they didn’t get his Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones duet or his Dorothy Squires and Ken Dodd one.

He’s also one of the few performers who can tackle the entire Rat Pack and a host of other Las Vegas favourites single handedly – even though he has to admit “half me act is dead”.

Musical director Steve Price’s arrangements are faultless and with a 10 piece band plus two backing singers patiently waiting for their cues to come in between his much loved but often enigmatic anecdotes it’s the sort of show, they say, you don’t see nowadays.

In the first half locally based vocalist Leanne Fury continues to develop into a real star in the making, Carl Schofield continues to consolidate his likeable “big, daft and fat” traditional northern stand-up comedy and Maurice Grumbleweed makes his mark with a set of familiar material neatly honed for the older market.
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