Review: Grantham – Brian May & Kerry Ellis, A Candlelit Concert


25 February 2014 by Richard Yetman

Brian May and Kerry Ellis.
Brian May and Kerry Ellis.

This was one of the most eagerly anticipated concerts ever staged in Grantham.

Former Queen legend Brian May and West End musicals star Kerry Ellis are surely the biggest names to have peformed on the stage at The Meres Leisure Centre, and Grantham returned the compliment by making the show a sell-out.

The concert was described by Brian May as an evening of acoustic music in an intimate, candlelit atmosphere, which it was. But it was much more than that, and full of surprises.

One of the biggest was the introduction by May of his Red Special electric guitar, for a blistering rendition of his solo Last Horizon.

Another was his endorsement of our town as “the best ever,” from which you can take it that “Dr May” appeared to be loving every minute of his time on the Meres stage.

It all meant that at the end of a memorable evening, the audience – a happy blend of diehard Queen fans, old rockers, musical theatre afficendados and Saturday night revellers – went home having enjoyed a thoroughly entertaining show that was rocking, heartwarming, moving, thought-provoking and, more than anything, great fun. Yes, it really was all those things, thanks to a well judged set that was as varied as it was brilliantly executed.

May and Ellis took it in turns to introduce the numbers, in a chatty, engaging and informative way. Thus the audience learned that Brian May developed a love of pop harmony from the Everly Brothers, by way of his introduction to their tune So Sad. That number was a showcase for May’s driving, wonderfully rhythmic guitar and Ellis’s remarkable voice, which never loses its purity, whatever the context.

A Beatles tune, Tell me What You See, offered similar appeal. Ellis said she had not known that song until her singing partner introduced it to her, but she knew the other Fab Four offering, Something, which she sang beautifully.

Two songs – Born Free and Nothing Really Has Changed – reflected May and Ellis’s interest in animal welfare, and their inclusion complemented the show.

Ellis took a solo slot to perform a If I Loved you, from the musical carousel, as the show headed towards an invigorating climax.

Tie Your Mother Down, a May composition for Queen, quickened the pace and then it was time for a thumping encore.

Encouraged by May’s observation that there was potential for audience involvement, the crowd were straight up on their feet, stamping along to We Will Rock You – an added bonus to the scheduled set list – followed by Crazy Little Thing.

A crazy, rocking end indeed to a brilliant night.