Just One Falsetto

BARRY GIBB: “Mythology”

LG Arena, NEC, Saturday 21st September, 2013


I don’t usually review concerts on this blog but in this case I make an exception.

You don’t have to be a Bee Gees fan to recognise the song writing mega-talent of the eldest (and surviving) Gibb brother, Barry.  Together with brothers Robin and Maurice, he is responsible for some of the catchiest pop music of the last five decades.

But who isn’t a Bee Gees fan to some degree?  I’m a lifelong obsessive so I relished the chance to see the last surviving member of the band performing live.

The show begins with a video clip: Gibb sings Technicolor Dreams, a bouncy little song about the silver screen that sets the tone.  Tonight is going to be about nostalgia, to be sure, but there is also going to be warmth and humour.

The great man himself strides on in black, not so much a silver fox as a platinum lion.  The mane is still there, as are the beard and the teeth.  The video screens show us in massive close-up: Barry Gibb still has a twinkle in his eye.  He opens with Jive Talkin’ and Lonely DaysYou Should Be Dancing gets us on our feet.  Already in these three numbers, we realise the distinctive voice is still there in all its range and beauty.  Gibb can still belt, can still pull off the breathy whisper, and the sweet, searing falsetto has lost none of its power.

The other brothers’ absence is felt, but they are also present, in the slide shows and the reminiscences but mostly of course in the legacy of their music.  Gibb launches into I Started a Joke only for video footage of late brother Robin to take over in the second verse.  We all stand up, in celebration and tribute.  There is a lot of love in the room.

The back catalogue is outstanding.  There is no way Gibb can cover everything but most of the biggest numbers are here: the Saturday Night Fever classics especially, interspersed with some older, less well-known songs.  Every Christian Lion-Hearted Man Will Show You is a moment of weirdness with Gibb’s eldest son Stephen, a mountain man with a biker beard, intoning the Latin incantation that heralds each verse.  With The Sun In My Eyes is a tone poem, a beautiful ballad with one of my favourite Gibb lyrics ever, “Who is the clown that walks in the steps of my shadow?”

Maurice’s daughter Sammy joins her uncle to duet on How Can You Mend A Broken Heart? – she also has a solo spot for the Diana Ross smash Chain Reaction.  One of the three backing vocalists, BethCohen steps forward to duet on the Streisand hit Guilty, and to take centre stage for one of that diva’s biggest ever hits, Woman In Love.

If pressed to pick a highlight (impossible!) it’s when Gibb duets with his son for I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You. Gibb junior has a rich, rough rock voice, complementing the smoother and softer stylings of Gibb senior– The song is an example of the brothers’ storytelling abilities.  Other numbers highlight an impressionistic approach to lyrics, but above all it’s the melodies that hook you in, perfect pop refrains, time and time again.  It’s not only words that take your heart away; it’s the tunes as well.

The show ends with Words, dedicated to Linda, Gibb’s wife of 43 years.  It is a celebration of their life together and their growing family: five kids and eight grandkids (so far), and a look to the future, after all the losses this musical dynasty has sustained.

For two and a half hours I am transported.  Memories of my own are summoned – Gibb truly has provided a soundtrack for my life.  Judging by the energy and quality of his performance, Gibb (now in his late 60s) looks and sounds like he’s got many more years in him yet (jokes about erectile dysfunction aside!).  I really hope so. 

As Gibb points out in Immortality, with images of all his brothers (Andy included) and his parents on the screen behind him, ‘we don’t say goodbye.’  The lost Gibbs live on as long as the songs continue to be played.


 You can check out what else is on at the LG Arena here.

About williamstafford

Novelist (Brough & Miller, sci fi, historical fantasy) Theatre critic http://williamstaffordnovelist.wordpress.com/ http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B008AD0YGO and Actor - I can often be found walking the streets of Stratford upon Avon in the guise of the Bard! View all posts by williamstafford

15 responses to “Just One Falsetto

  • Lee

    I was there too, this little review sums it up perfectly…

    I will be going again this week, as I am not so sure he will be doing much else after this…


    • williamstafford

      I hope he carries on, whether it’s performing or recording – judging by the performance on Saturday he still hasthe voice, a lot of energy and stamina.

  • Sarah

    He was born in 1946, that doesn’t make him 70 next year.

  • Tony Emery

    He has written and album with Steve which they will record next year.

  • Harriiette Corso Stamps

    He will also be performing at the Grand Ole Opry on Oct. 29th…

  • Veronica Ailana Usher Cockerill

    It must have been so very hard ‘but Barry got up and thought of his brothers #the music they made was going to be kept alive ‘it is a most wonderful tribute ‘and Salute to his brothers ‘and he sang like he always has brilliant ‘what a great heart and soul he is !.the Bee Gees where there again ‘the music brought them to stand together as always ‘United ! also Maurice’s Daughter Samantha ‘such a beautiful voice truly briliant and all the attributes that made her wonderful dad so wonderful ‘also Barry’s Son Steve #great Singer and voice ‘i refer to the younger generation as the Gees for now ‘maybe they may get together and do a song ‘great the Junior Gees ‘but i so love Sams Album ‘it is perfectly beautiful ‘the music lives ! ……We do not ever forget these songs that are gold !….Why there has not been a Knighthood for The Bee Gees ‘i do not know ‘the music they have made is loved the world over ! another Request to HRH ! I am sure this will happen ! Thank You Barry , Sam , Steve !.You Lit London and the UK up with the music !

  • Marie L

    I pray for the chance to see this show. He is my idol, I have such adoration for the Bee Gee’s and Andy Gibb……grew up with their music, saw the Bee Gee’s when I was a teenager and I have read nothing but amazing reviews. Possibly a USA tour next year. Please please please………I’ll be the one crying and screaming!!!! Great article. Again, great review!

  • Debbie Martin

    This was really an awesome article,and I almost felt I was there…..I’m from Florida in US, and hope he does something here. I never got to see them live, but I’ve watched and listened to them for years…………….I have the utmost respect for Barry, Linda, and their family….. and miss his brothers – what talents! I play their CD’s every single day! Thank you for that great article – I was picked to sing along with another Barry (Manilow) in Jacksonville some years ago – and I’m hoping I’ll get the same chance here with Barry Gibb! It’s a fun story, and is based on the power of positive thinking! Thanks for your viewpoint and perspective! Great work!


  • Jürgen Schulze

    Saw him in London. It was FANTASTIC. My wife and I travelled from Germany just for him.

  • Jen

    Thanks for this great review. I hope Barry will tour here in the US next year and pray I get to see him. I have loved the Brothers since I was a teenager but sadly, never saw them perform live.

  • Terry Bell

    I was lucky enough to see him in his first solo show here in the states and have met him on 2 occasions. I have never been one to be overly impressed by celebrities and usually I don’t act starstruck, but I totally was meeting the brothers back in the day and Barry again, just after Maurice passed. He is my hero and has been since I was 10. I hate that he is the only surviving brother, since family had always been so important to him. I hope he will be with us for a long time to come. He is a treasure and is a super nice person. thanks for your great review of the show

  • Diane

    My husband and I have just arrived back in Australia after travelling to London to see the awesome legend Barry Gibb. We saw him in Brisbane in Feb and loved it so much, we just had to see him again. We were sitting in the fifth row from front in centre. WOW what an experience!!! What a privilege to be there. Thanks Barry, I love you, keep going as long as you can, your music fills my heart and life every day.

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