Sunday, 23 September 2018

Review: Alexander Armstrong

WE know that Alexander Armstrong has a range of entertainment weapons in his armory: cutting edge with Miller And Armstrong, sharp prodding with Have I Got News For You and blunt instrument with Pointless.

Mike Rowbottom

WE know that Alexander Armstrong has a range of entertainment weapons in his armory: cutting edge with Miller And Armstrong, sharp prodding with Have I Got News For You and blunt instrument with Pointless.If he could sing as well he would be the young pretender to Bruce Forsyth. And if Brucie can sing at Glastonbury then why not the funny and likeable Alexander at Henley Festival?

And so it came to pass. It turns out that he has not just a good voice, but a very good voice indeed — strong, well-supported, accurate, occasionally acrobatic and rich.

The Salon seating was packed, the raucous crowd, already fired up by Jamie Cullum, were baying for him. And on he came with his excellent band featuring the fine sax and wind player, Simon Bates. A few improvised, funny words of introduction and then a Geordie folk song which had everyone laughing. Would that be the pattern for the evening? No, he went straight into the Rainbow classic Since You Been Gone which got the full treatment without the rock histrionics and with the sumptuous jazz soloing from the sax.

It was a good start, but the audience was bemused. A lot of them had come for anecdotes, quips and jokes and here they were being sung at. What was going on?

This was Alexander Armstrong giving us the up-to-date version of the all-round entertainer — it used to be a song, a dance, a joke then thank you and bring on the juggler. Now it’s the witty TV host and writer showing off his other skills. The songs moved from Eighties rock and pop to the occasional classic ballad and finished with an encore of Chas and Dave’s There Ain’t No Foolin’ You. It was all delivered almost faultlessly and with power.But — and it hurts to say this — whilst it was very good indeed, it wasn’t great!

He sang well but we were left with the impression of a very good wedding singer — singing all the words and the notes but not adding anything. The great Spandau Ballet ballad True highlighted it: Tony Hadley’s vocals on that single ring with passion, Armstrong’s rang with accuracy, but not necessarily truth. Maybe he needs to write his own material to give more identity to this branch of his career.

Alexander Armstrong

Thursday, July 11

By Mike Rowbottom

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