Review by Sam Waite
While the word itself was still used pejoratively, the hippie subculture of the 1960s was waning and its imminent replacement, disco, was building steam on both sides of the Atlantic. By the late 70s the music and fashion were a dominant force – non-disco acts such as Rod Stewart, Pink Floyd and Queen recorded tracks with disco elements. Critiqued as mindless escapism from within the rising punk-rock movement, and defended as Weimar Germany-esque by supporters, the genre and social movement eventually fell out of fashion.
With disco’s influence on modern dance and pop artists and repeated resurgences in the decades since it's fall from prominence, Lost in Music have done what's only natural, in paying tribute to both the music and the associated nostalgia. As part of their ongoing tour, this troupe of performers, created by Entertainers, brought One Night at the Disco to London’s Adelphi Theatre, and had the crowd in the palm of their hands. Fronted by a quintet of talented singers, there's a lot to like about this show and the troupe behind it.
The Lost in Music band are all stellar in their own right – led by keyboardist and musical direct Tony Wood and featuring Chris Dawkins on guitar, Des Woodbine on bass, drums by Cameron Meek, and brass by Lee Hallam (trombone), Dylan Herbert (trumpet), and Pelham Wood (saxophone). Living up to disco’s reputation for pulling in musicians at the top of their game, they all play spectacularly well and recreate the immaculate, dance-ready vibes of the original recordings. When called on for solo moments, each delivers with gusto and an appreciative crowd roars with approval.
Vocals by a group of five help bring these classic songs to life, and each member is given moments in the spotlight while everyone on stage is a capable harmony singer and ready to elevate their co-star’s performances. Unofficial MC Kevin Cole plays up the flirtatious nature of some of the upbeat numbers, and takes ample opportunities to show off his impressive, supported falsetto. Bringing swagger and quick footwork to the proceedings is Bilal Aygei, whose deeper tones were less prevalent throughout the evening but who dominated the stage when placed front and centre. A friendship offstage is apparent, as Kevin and Bilal clearly had a blast performing together, and this jovial energy added to an already joyous evening.
Three female vocalists stunned in their spotlight moments, and despite my efforts to pinpoint a favourite I found the answer changing whenever a new chorus kicked in. Arguably the strongest overall vocalist, Jackie Walters has a strong, steady belt and undeniable range, while a more demure, silky tone from Natalie Collins later gave way to a soaring belt of her own. Completing the ensemble, Taryn Charles brought energy and charisma to her own starring moments, and the trio’s harmonies were gorgeous and perfectly pitched throughout the show.
With a setlist paying tribute to predominantly black artists, this was a real celebration of the gospel-tinged voices in disco's early recordings, largely forgoing the Euro-disco trends of the late 70s and early 80s. Songs were placed in just the right spots to keep the momentum going – in fact, those of us who did sit down for stretches once we'd been brought to our feet were only doing so to save energy for bigger, flashier moments where we would resume the dance party in the stalls.
Early highlights of the evening included Earth, Wind and Fire’s “September”, a sure fire crowd pleaser, and “I'm Coming Out” – where both the ladies on stage and in the audience got to feel their full Diana Ross fantasy. Closing out act one with “Relight My Fire” did leave me confused, as direct references to the Take That version took me momentarily out of the 70s. However the second act quickly pulled me back in with personal favourites “Car Wash” (a group number highlighting those incredible harmonies), “I'm Every Woman” (a standout moment for an empowered, dominating Taryn Charles) and the ultimate anthem, “I Will Survive”, sung to perfection by Jackie Walters.
Ending the set by transitioning from a medley of Chic’s hit songs into “Ain’t No Stoppin’” allowed the two men a final showcase of their remarkable voices, and left the audience clamouring for more. More came quickly, with a quick comic bit from Kevin Cole before a sincere thanks to all (including both back and front of house teams at the Adelphi Theatre) and a rousing by two-part finale. No spoilers for this ending, but safe to say the crowd were living for every second.
Despite repeated references to being in the heart of London, and outright announcing their delight at performing on a West End stage, there was no denying that this was a concert rather than a theatrical performance, and the energy grew rapidly as this realisation set in. Where a few phones tried to quickly catch the opening, by the second act we were all recording favourite moments freely, and by the finale we were even encouraged to record and share our personal highlights.
Admittedly, if you don't go in loving disco, you won't come out loving disco. Still, it's a fun evening for even the uninitiated, and there’s no denying the sheer catchiness of some of these songs. Fans of the genre will have the time of their lives, while those who've been dragged along will find a lot more joy in this celebratory night out that they might have anticipated. It's fun, it's flashy, and it's undeniably captured the spirit of disco.
Following this one-night engagement at the Adelphi theatre, Lost in Music – One Night at the Disco is on tour across the UK.
For dates, information and tickets visit https://www.ents24.com/uk/tour-dates/lost-in-music-one-night-at-the-disco