Rachel Tucker In Concert
The Mac, Belfast
Having reviewed many productions featuring Rachel Tucker throughout her theatrical ascendancy – from her theatre debut as a child performer in Bugsy Malone to teenage appearances with Belfast’s Arts Youth Theatre and the Ulster Theatre Company through to her professional debut in Rent at Dublin’s Olympia Theatre – I have proudly watched this young girl grow into the superstar that she has always deserved to be.
However, this concert – the first dates on her first UK solo tour – was different … was special … and was an absolutely unmissable show!!
It was different because, in concert, Tucker does not have any ‘character’ to hide behind (not that she was ever shy enough to need one).
It was special because it was a ‘home-coming’ in her native town of Belfast.
It was an unmissable show because, fresh from her recent success in the Royal Albert Hall, this West-End and Broadway star has combined her early childhood experiences in cabaret with her theatrical training to take her concert performance to a new level; a level only reached by top international performers.
With superb accompaniment from her trio of musicians – Musical Director, Kris Rawlinson, on piano, Dan Giles on bass, upright bass and guitar and Keir Adamson on drums – this eclectic evening of song, anecdotal chat and fun was simply sensational and displayed not only the degree of talent that this dynamic diva possesses but also the fact that her versatility knows no bounds.
Thanks to her warm personality, down-to-earth honesty, series of funny and sad anecdotes, fancy footwork and consistently high-quality vocals, she has that rare charisma and ability to engage with her audience for every second that she is on stage.
Experience has taught Tucker well, as she is a master of milking every word, expression, movement, pause and nuance in any song to ensure that, with her performance, it reaches its full potential … and then some.
The evening consisted of performances of some classic jazz, soul and musical theatre favourites, while a few surprises really showed how much she is loved, and missed, in her home town.
Duets with her sister, Margaret, and her father, Tommy ‘Tucker’ Kelly, proved that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree with the Belfast singer, while other guests included fellow countryman and West End star, Mark Dugdale (The Commitments, Jersey Boys etc) and James Huish.
Her inclusion of young students from the recently formed James Huish Academy of Theatre Arts (of which she is an Ambassador) showed her generosity of heart by giving these young hopefuls a prestigious platform for their talents … and a memory they will long cherish.
Musically, there were many selections from her current album, On The Road, and some great new arrangements of popular songs, including of her signature tune, Defying Gravity.
Surprises included more than a nod to Tina Turner with an energetic and feisty dance routine and a truly beautiful version of Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. (We can only hope that the inclusion of the latter, with its lyric “I’ve finally decided my future lies beyond the Yellow Brick Road” was not a cryptic clue of a final farewell to the musical, Wicked?!).
However, talent like this should never be held back by any single musical and Tucker’s future could, and should, well be as a bill-topper in Las Vegas and other prestigious entertainment centres, world-wide.
To be able to hold the attention of your audience for every second throughout a concert is the sign of a great performer … but to be able to demand such attention even for poignant pauses during your emotional songs is the sign of an exceptional and extraordinary performer … and Rachel Tucker has just such an ability for she IS that exceptional and extraordinary talent!