The ultimate multi legendary artist tribute show – the longest running in Las Vegas history – is celebrating its 40th anniversary, with its sixth visit to Melbourne.
Since it debuted in the US in 1983, it has played to more than 40 million people in 15 countries over five continents.
I believe what we are privy to in Melbourne is Legends’ best ensemble performance yet.
I speak of singers who replicate the voices and costuming of some of the most noteworthy pop, rock and country performers of all time.
The two-and-a-half-hour production – including a 20-minute interval – is energetic, dynamic, colourful and engaging. In short, it is heaps of fun.
On each visit to Australia, the line-up between new and returning artistes varies.
This time you have Elton John (Stephen Sorrentino), Shania Twain (Stacey Whitton Summers) and Jon Bon Jovi (Jason Morey) in Act I.
After interval, there is Adele (Janae Longo), Freddie Mercury (Fernando Castro), Cher (Annika Starander Weaver) and Elvis (Bill Cherry).
The tribute voices are strong (each sing between four and six songs or, in the case of medleys, parts of tunes).
In many cases, they bear a striking similarity to the actual legends.
In addition, there is an outstanding five-piece band and two excellent support singers.
The band consists of the musical director and guitarist, a bass player, drummer, keyboard player and saxophonist.
The latter also plays other musical instruments and performs some back-up vocals.
That is not to overlook eight agile dancers (four men and four women), who not only ply their craft adroitly, with vibrant choreography, but change outfits frequently.
In other words, there is a heck of a lot of talent in the room and the audience laps it up.
What also struck me was the many and varied high quality graphics on the large video screen that formed the stage backdrop.
To the left and right are two other big screens that showcase the tribute artists and, on occasion, display footage of the legends they are emulating.
The lighting and sound are spot on, while the performers’ banter with the audience goes down a treat.
The only thing I could have done without was Janae Longo’s incessant cackle as Adele.
That was unnecessary and off-putting by the third or fourth time she went down that route.
I say that as someone who has had the good fortune to see Adele live, minus the contrived laughter.
Mind you, Longo’s singing as Adele is very good, as is Annika Starander Weaver as Cher and Stacey Whitton Summers as Shania Twain.
Stephen Sorrentino, Jason Morey, Fernando Castro and Bill Cherry do a fine job too.
I raise a question about the balance in the show. The first act goes for 50 minutes and the second 1 hour 20 minutes.
If one of the tributes in the second act could be shifted to before the break, the production would be more evenly balanced, which I see as desirable.
Still, overall, Legends in Concert is a beaut crowd pleaser. The atmosphere is super and the artists keep pumping out the hits.
And you simply can’t go wrong by finishing with The King. Bill really is the cherry on top.
Legends in Concert is on at The Palms at Crown until 27th January, 2024.