Review by Daz Gale
Audiences have been hearing the Barricade Boys sing for the past eight years, entertaining lovers of musical theatre all over the world. Their latest show sees them bring their West End Party home to the Adelphi Theatre for one night only. Though they love a ballad heavy setlist, with the promise of a party, this show looked set to be a lot less miserable. But the real question is… how many Les Mis puns can I fit into one paragraph? Well, maybe one pun more…
The Barricade Boys get their name from all having starred in various productions of Les Miserables over the years (now the puns make sense).Created in 2015 by Scott Garnham and Simon Schofield to create a night at the musicals like no other, they have gone on to establish themselves as a musical theatre supergroup. Their various iterations around the world have had more than 80 members but it was down to the four core members (Scott and Simon alongside Kieran Brown and Craig Mather) to bring this particular performance home.
The first thing to mention when it comes to the Barricade Boys are the vocals. As well as the show they all starred in, other credits between them include the Phantom in Phantom Of The Opera and Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys. If that gives you an indication of the standard of vocal on offer at this performance, you don’t know the half of it. Each a gifted performer in their own right, their voices shone on solo performances including Kieran Brown’s breathtakingly incredible ‘Music Of The Night’ and a childhood medley where each of the four boys revisited their earliest memories of theatre from Scott Garnham’s ‘Pure Imagination’ to Simon Schofield revisiting his time in Oliver with a beautiful ‘Where Is Love’.
It was the group performances that really tore the roof off the theatre, however. As you can imagine, numbers from musicals were there in their multitude with ‘Defying Gravity’, ‘The Greatest Show’ and a West Side Story medley among those performed. The Barricade Boys love a medley and we were treated to ones from Mamma Mia and Jersey Boys, perfectly fitting in to their style balancing pop (and rock) music with musical theatre in rapid-fire jukebox musical medleys that never stop to allow you to catch your breath (how they did it on stage, I’ll never know).
Of course, you would expect one or two songs from Les Miserables at a Barricade Boys concert, and they didn’t let us down performing a grand total of six numbers from the show. Opening number ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ set the tone for the evening with gorgeous harmonies, ‘Bring Him Home’ was as divine as it can possibly get while closing number ‘One Day More’ was the perfect finale and had me longing for one song more. It wasn’t all as safe as you might expect with a bizarre swing version of ‘Master Of The House’ turning the song into a Michael Buble-esque number. Unexpected and weird, but it sort of worked.
The boys were joined by some very special guests for this concert, with Fra Fee and Matt Henry continuing the Les Mis theme with incredible performances of ‘Empty Chairs At Empty Tables’ and ‘Stars’ respectively alongside members of the group. Matt Henry revisited his previous time on the Adelphi stage with a truly incredible rendition of ‘Not My Father’s Son’ from Kinky Boots, reminding us all why he is one of the very best the West End has to offer. Their trio of special guests was completed by the incomparable Courtney Bowman who wowed with her stunning vocals on ‘Home’ from The Wiz. The Barricade Boys also kindly lent their stage to the stars of tomorrow as children from Stage coach Finchley Central and Mill Hill East gave us their best Matilda and warmed all of our hearts in the process.
The setlist on the night proved more versatile than you might expect, extending past the realms of musical theatre (though many of these iconic songs made their way to the stage through various jukebox musicals), we were treated to a classic medley of songs from the Rolling Stones and The Kinks and two numbers from The Beatles including a rousing singalong of ‘Hey Jude’. While a surreal rendition of Bon Jovi’s ‘It’s My Life’ interspersed with various accompaniments may have been a rare misfire, the undoubted highlight of the night came from their performance of Queen’s seminal ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ performing the entirety of the song from start to finish, completely live. No easy feat considering how complex the song is, the result was completely sensational, deserving them a mid-show standing ovation.
The musical arrangements from James Doughty breathed new life into such classic songs, retaining their essence but bringing something fresh to them in an always exciting and often surprising manner. The quality of the four boys’ voices were matched by the selection of songs and high standard of the setlist. Another factor which elevated this show was the banter they all had between each other, with a joyous camaraderie that extended into the audience. Whether they were poking fun at their own dance moves or making jokes at their own and each others expense, it was an additional way to ensure a smile was never far from our faces, not that we needed the help.
The Barricade Boys promised a West End party and they more than delivered. Whether it was your first time experiencing their live show or your 24601st time, the connection they had with the audience ensured everybody left feeling like a friend to them. Four immensely talented performers whose vocals and general performance skills are among the best to ever grace the Adelphi stage, they have expertly crafted a show that would be a dream for every musical theatre lover. The Barricade Boys truly are the masters of the stage and proved that there ain’t no party like a Barricade Boys party.
I Dreamed A Dream
Music Of The Night
Revolting Children (Stage Coach Finchley Central and Mill Hill East)
Home (Courtney Bowman)
Bring Him Home
Empty Chairs at Empty Tables (with Fra Fee)
Mamma Mia Medley
Jersey Boys Medley
The Greatest Show (featuring Stage Coach Finchley Central and Mill Hill East)
Johnny B.Goode/Great Balls
It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)
Stars (with Matt Henry)
Not My Father’s Son (Matt Henry)
West Side Story Medley
Master of The House
It’s My Life
British Rock Legends Medley
Twist And Shout
One Day More
The Barricade Boys – West End Party plays at Cardiff on 16th November and Tyne & Wear on 17th November.
More information and tickets at https://barricadeboys.com
Photos by Danny Kaan