BWW Reviews: RICHARD AND ADAM, Cadogan Hall, March 12 2014
Nothing speaks to how brutally meritocratic that biz we call show really is like the fates of Talent Show winners. There they are, jumping the queue to the holy grail of primetime TV, with record deals thrown in and an acreage of press coverage no PR could deliver this side of a Cheryl Cole tattoo, but, but, but... so very, very few make it big. If ever there was a man made for the cruel dais of the judges' table, it is Andy Warhol - the dispenser of allotments of 15 minutes of fame. Some of the thousands that the Simon Cowell shows chew up and spit out manage to crawl from the wreckage and follow in the footsteps of
Paul Potts Will Young. The latest to give it a go are Welsh tenor and baritone duo Richard and Adam, whose nationwide tour closed this week in the palatial Cadogan Hall.
Expecting an audience of teens, I was surprised to see that the demographic was much more slanted to that of the lads' oft-mentioned biggest fan, their nan. One could soon see (or rather hear) why. The duo belt out - and they have plenty of belt - standards from the Lloyd-Webber back catalogue, essay a few songs in passable Italian (very Elvis) and give a few more that we've all heard on the adverts. It's a bit Radio 2 on a Sunday afternoon and the Welsh lads look as clean cut as that nice Welsh Aled Jones off the telly - but that's not to say it isn't pleasant. But it's not opera, neither in terms of the material chosen nor in the precision of the singing which wanders a little - as it would: the lads are but 20 and 23 years of age and have plenty of time to develop.
Linking the songs we get a little banter and some gently self-deprecating tales, told with a confidence I wouldn't have summoned at their ages, but not exactly with the aplomb of a Kenneth Williams. We also get a few numbers from an even younger singer, Charlotte Jaconelli, now solo, whose voice has been trained for longer and is more stable as a result. She has an album coming out in the summer and has plenty that will get her the kind of work Katherine Jenkins has monopolised over the years - should she go that route.
If the gig (concert, I suppose) was somewhat lowbrow in its ambition - and frankly disappointing in supplementing piano and an excellent string quartet with a backing track - it got a tremendous reaction from the house, with whom the lads clearly connected. That puts bums on seats and entertains them: and there's absolutely nothing to apologise for if you sell tickets and then give the punters what they want. It was also pleasing to hear working-class accents and - how can I put this without being indelicate - observe a working-class demeanour on the London stage. The lads hail from Holywell, with Ms Jaconelli from Chigwell and they've not had the sharp edges knocked off them yet. London's theatre stages are populated almost exclusively by the (largely) middle-class graduates of stage schools - this show was a welcome departure. We'll hear plenty more from all three singers in the future.