Row L at the Cambridge Corn Exchange. Pretty good seats I thought – 12 rows back according to my alphabet. But the attendant showing us to our seats kept walking and walking towards the stage, finally pointing us to the second row on the left. The middle section did extend further forwards, but not by 11 rows. Pretty good had changed to great, and my excitement for ‘Christmas with The Overtones’ grew!
The support act had already started when we arrived – two men in black T-shirts and black jeans were on stage, one with a guitar, the other sat on a cajon. I felt a bit like I was in a pub rather than at a concert at first. The singing was ok, but nothing amazing. But on that cold December night, I soon warmed to the warm-up act – within a song I was hooked. How I managed not to dance in the aisle to the positivity of Only Here Once I’ll never know (check it out at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQkk9_-GbAM). The lyrics were great in all the songs, and the cajon playing the best I’ve ever heard. Ben McKelvey and Marc Danecker did themselves proud, but their pairing with The Overtones is an odd one – I wouldn’t say that their music will appeal to the typical Toner. Having already supported Wet Wet Wet this year and supporting Mike & The Mechanics in 2017, I think Ben’s one to watch out for. And with a promise of doing “anything you want” if you buy a couple of copies of his current album (which reached number 6 in iTunes’s Singer-Songwriter chart) after their performance, well worth seeing.
The Overtones is a five-piece vocal-harmony group, but sadly only four mics were being set up on stage. In November, the group announced that Timmy Matley, the lead singer, would miss the tour as he’ll be concentrating on his health – having been diagnosed with melanoma (skin cancer) in September this year and needing ongoing treatment. In a statement, Timmy said that he’s a firm believer in positive thinking and prayer, and to keep it coming. We wish you all the best Timmy and look forward to seeing you fully recovered in 2017.
At some point in an Overtones’ concert you can guarantee that the boys will make an appearance in the audience, and last night was no exception, kicking off with being told to look behind us as the boys walked down the aisles, hugging fans, sitting on them and shaking their hands, all while singing Winter Wonderland. The boys then joined a drummer, two guitarists and a keyboard player on stage and got the party started straight away with Why Do Fools Fall In Love, a track from their debut album from 2010. After Get Ready, Lachie Chapman, the baritone of the group, gave an emotional mention of Timmy, although he didn’t go into details. Cambridge was asked to be the fifth member, an invitation that some of the audience took far too literally later in the show, climbing the steps to get on stage.
Tracks from all five of their albums, including songs that they hadn’t performed in years, were combined with quirky choreography (some made up on the spot!) and fun to give their best concert to date. Lachie apologised to staff as he encouraged people to take videos and pictures, and to get on their feet and dance – an offer that was happily accepted throughout the show. From Pretty Woman, The Bare Necessities and Runaround Sue to Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, the group put their own spin on classics, as well as including one of their originals, Good Ol’ Fashioned Christmas.
After singing How Sweet it is to be Loved by You, there was a one-minute interval for a change into sequin jackets, while the audience was entertained by a comedic pre-recording of the boys backstage. When they returned, a phone could be heard vibrating – Mike Crawshaw answered, and a recording of Timmy appeared on the screen with him giving a big thank you for support in the best way he knows how – by singing Thank You For Being A Friend. What an amazing voice this man has! Although the four boys take over his role really well and put on a great performance, I suddenly felt like someone had poured hot chocolate sauce over my brownie. It was great on it’s own, but something could take it to another level.
Timmy stayed as a backing singer while Lachie took the lead for White Christmas, after which the chocolate sauce was removed and the boys sang an emotional Driving Home for Christmas after Lachie had asked people to light a candle at home for Timmy.
Coming back on stage following a thunderous call for an encore, the boys finished the 1.5-hour show by performing Do You Love Me? and Can’t Take my Eyes Off You, finishing by saying that they’ll be back in 2017 with Timmy.
The tour ends in Nottingham tomorrow night. If you’re in need of filling with the Christmas spirit, you know where to go. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas everyone!