Twisting the Night Away/Huntingdon Hall, Worcester


THE clue may well be in the show’s title but words alone just can’t convey the sheer power that’s unleashed once vocalist Si Cranstoun’s fabulous band turns up the heat.

Cranstoun has been on the so-called retro circuit for some time, initially helped on his way to fame by the late broadcaster Sir Terry Wogan.

Labels invariably fail to hit the spot, so I’ll tell you what does. And that’s the most electrifying, finger-popping soul and ska musical stew you’re ever likely to savour.

Heavily influenced by R&B legends Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke, the amazing thing is that many of Cranstoun’s self-penned numbers could actually have been written by them.

He even peppers his songs with Wilson’s trademark tongue-twirling scat phrases, most famously in Reet Petite, which is faithfully reproduced with great energy and style.

The tunes come thick and fast. Coupe de Ville, Skinny Jeans, Burn a Little Candlelight, Lone Blue Star… these are three-minute mini operas that connect directly to the heart, which in the endlessly effervescing Cranstoun’s case is never far from his sleeve.

The entire gig becomes a cathedral of sound, each number running seamlessly into the next. And although Little Milton’s Grits Ain’t Groceries may expose the singer’s tougher, more blues-drenched instincts, Right Girl – about the woman he met while busking and who later became his wife – reveals the softer flip side of the musical coin.

And the same can be said for his epic ballad Daddy’s Got You, a beautifully crafted hymn to the joys of fatherhood.

The band kept the promise of the show’s title for the encore, storming into the Cooke classic Twisting the Night Away, which predictably had the crowd on their feet and shouting for more.

For that we’ll have to wait awhile. But let’s hope for not too long, eh?

John Phillpott