WALKING down to the Waterside I soon realised I was in the middle of a sea of music fans all in high spirits and eagerly awaiting the UK’s leading Johnny Cash impersonator – and he did not disappoint.
Clive John’s act features hits from the 1950s to 2002, including classics such as Ring of Fire and Walk the Line.
Unusually for a tribute show, the band are an award-nominated and recognised group in their own right.
Rather than pretending to be Johnny Cash and his band between songs, each member spoke in their natural voice and offered insights.
For example lead guitar player Nick Davis demonstrated the different styles of the two guitarists who performed in Cash’s band.
Charismatic double bass player Alan Parker got lots of laughs with his quick quips.
A surprise star of the show was Jill Schoonjas, who performed the June Carter duets with Clive John.
She also performed a solo song and talked about the life of June – a star in her own right before marrying Cash.
Frontman Clive John has released seven albums and his solo work was nominated for best British country music in 2011.
During the show the group performed their hit record The Spirit - a ‘hot disc’ single of the year.
The track went down well and the group also performed a Kris Kristofferson record – one of frontman John’s heroes.
The atmosphere in the auditorium was electric – with people clapping along, applauding and even a few dancing in the isles towards the end.
Considering the average audience member was aged 50-60 this was some achievement.
Behind the band a giant backdrop showed moments from the Man In Black’s life.
The screen also showed images relating to the wide-variety of Cash’s songs being performed.
Overall the show was excellent, but was unusual because Clive John and The Spirit band kept a sense of their individuality.
However in the brochure the frontman noted that with an Elvis tribute artists can copy his ‘lip thing and hair swivelling’ but Cash ‘just had his voice and an overwhelming presence and you can’t copy that can you’.
Clive says he wants to capture the ‘feeling and empathy’ of Cash’s music – and in my opinion he does.
Review by Andrew Kay, following a performance at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre on January 5.