Stop anyone in the street and ask them to sing the chorus of “Stayin’ Alive” and nine times out of ten you will get a high pitched, garbled “Whcnsdfhsdfhkjsa/ Stayin’ Alive, Stayin’ Alive”- such is the huge footprint The Bee Gees have left on popular culture.
Tonight sees the return of Barry Gibb, the last remaining Bee Gee. After a career of great triumph and huge tragedy, including the loss of his brothers and fellow bandmates Robin and Maurice, the delightful Mr. Gibb is back with his retrospective Mythology Tour.
Support act Audio Vixen are approached with some hesitation. Spuiked as X Factor alumni, their name conjures up barely clothed pop tarts writhing around the stage.
The apprehension proves misguided as the three-piece comprising of siblings Rica, Christina, and Ross are genuinely enjoyable and their nu country/adult contemporary tunes are a hit with the crowd.
All three are extremely proficient singers and musicians, though their originals songs are infinitely better than their covers. In particular, their version of the inimitable Florence And The Machine’s “Drumming Song” fails to capture the emotional depth or dizzying vocal heights of the original and falls well short.
Happily their tribute to The Bee Gees, “Morning Of My Life” is significantly better and embraced warmly by the audience.
A video montage of home movies and Bee Gees tour footage begins to play on the screen towering behind the stage, which has been decorated to resemble a giant picture frame.
As Barry Gibb strides across the stage, the venue quite seriously goes berserk. White haired and smiling, Gibb is a little less 70s pin-up and more jovial grandpa these days but as soon as he begins to sing “Jive Talking” it is clear the voice that revived disco is still strong.
Giving the audience a quick one-two, he launches into “Lonely Days” with the help of three knockout backup singers and a packed arena of fans.
Shielding his eyes against the blinding spotlights and looking out into the crowd, Gibb ushers in disco stalwart “You Should Be Dancing” which is greeted with a wall of waving arms and glowing daiquiris.
“To Love Somebody” is particularly appreciated by one concertgoer who bellows “Good onya, Bazza!” from somewhere in the back.
Emotions begin to bubble when Gibb duets with his niece Sam, the daughter of his late brother Maurice who has certainly inherited her old man’s pipes, on “How Do You Mend A Broken Heart”. The singer notes proudly “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree there.”
“You still got it Barry; you’re still hot” rings out from another over stimulated punter, to which Gibb quips “that has to be a member of the family.”
In keeping with the family theme Gibb’s guitarist son Stephen, who looks like he would be more comfortable at a metal gig, kicks out a rocking revamp of Maurice Gibb’s “On Time”. A duet with his father on “I’ve Got To Get A Message To You” showcases their radically different vocal talents.
During the show it begins to dawn that even as a 26 year old, this writer has grown up with the Gibb brother’s songs just as much as the rest of the baby boomer audience.
“Spicks And Specks”, which is accompanied by vintage Bee Gees footage, brings both a smile to the lips and a tear to the eye.
Any reserve waterworks are shed when Robin Gibb appears on the big screen to take over lead vocals on “I Started A joke”, a touching and emotional tribute to all three of his sadly passed-on siblings follows, which is punctuated by “Immortality”.
The night isn’t wistful reminiscing; disco favourites “Night Fever”, “More Than A Woman”, and the eternal favourite “Stayin’ Alive” keep the atmosphere light and upbeat.
It would have been easy to drown a show of this nature in sentiment, or focus on the personal tragedy and loss that had befallen Gibb, but the Mythology Tour is put together in such a way that it focuses on the joy of revisiting one’s youth and the celebration of life, love, and music.
As one punter making their way out of the show put it- “the only tragedy was that he didn’t play ‘Tragedy’.”