Reviewed by Rosemary Knight
Last night we went to watch Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story at The Lowry Theatre, Salford Quays, Manchester and all I can say is that this performance was absolutely amazing – one of the best shows I have ever had the pleasure to see, and believe me I have seen quite a few! I was absolutely blown away by this powerful tribute to one of the greatest legends of rock & roll.
Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story is currently celebrating its 30th anniversary, embarking on a UK wide tour and is famous for being the world’s most successful rock & roll musical, and after witnessing this fantastic performance I can understand why.
AJ Jenks and Christopher Weeks alternate in the lead role of Buddy, who with his group The Crickets, grew up in Lubbock, Texas, where country and western music was the norm and rock & roll music was frowned upon.
The show begins with Buddy and his group playing Country & Western at a radio station, when they suddenly break into a rock number, much to the horror of the station’s producer. Determined to play his own music, Buddy, beautifully portrayed on this occasion by Christopher Weeks, faces rejection from the record companies until he finally finds a manager who actually loves this new rock music and works alongside him.
When Buddy and The Crickets arrive to play a gig at The Apollo Theatre in Harlem, the black artists are astonished to see that the performers they had only heard on the radio are white men and they are reluctant to believe that any non-black group can really play rock & roll, but are eventually bowled over by the enthusiasm and musicianship of the group. Miguel Angel shows off his impressive vocal skills during his rendition of Reet Petite and Twist and Shout.
From the very beginning of the show Weeks enthusiastically belts out hit after hit, including Not Fade Away, Peggy Sue, Heartbeat, Raining in my Heart, Rave On and many more. During a visit to New York, Buddy meets and falls in love with Maria Elena, his wife to be and sings a magical version of True Love Ways. The entire cast are amazing musicians and singers who make this such a marvellous show. During the performance I looked around and noticed that practically every member of the audience was singing, clapping their hands or bopping in their seats or in the aisle.
The second part of the show revolves around Buddy’s very last gig on 2nd February 1959 at Clear Lake, Iowa, where he was joined by Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. The scene where they join together to play Johnny Be Good brought the house down. The three performers decided to charter a small plane to take them to their next gig, but unfortunately the plane crashed during a snowstorm in the night, causing the untimely death of one of the world’s most iconic performers at the tender age of just twenty two years old, but leaving behind a lasting legacy of wonderful music.
Even though we are aware of the tragedy, the Buddy Holly Story is still a completely joyous, heart-warming affair. It is a celebration of amazing music and is suitable for fans of all ages.
Tickets cost from £18.50 (booking fees may apply).
Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story is at The Lowry in Manchester from 27 January to 1 February 2020, for more information or to book tickets visit www.thelowry.com or call the box office on 0843 208 6000.
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 3AZ | 0843 208 6000