I didn’t know what to expect when I was tasked with going to the Bridgewater Hall to review The Overtones, I knew a little about the group but had never seen them live before. I had guessed that it would be an emotional event with the loss of their lead singer still fresh in the mind but since then they have released their sixth studio album on an independent label and I was keen to see how the events of the past year would impact on their performance. I was a little outside of my comfort zone, I’m used to mainly covering Country events but I knew they had good voices and sang good songs so I was keen to check them out regardless.
It was clear as they walked out that for most people in the crowd, this was their Christmas party which the boys addressed later on in the show! They began with three songs one after the other, moving around the stage in perfect sequence, it gave us a taste of what was to come, their dance moves couldn’t be faulted in every song as they sang classics such as Runaround Sue and Rockin Robin. By the start of the second song the near sell-out crowd was on their feet, hands in the air and swaying from side to side, its been a long time since I’ve seen an artist get the crowd going that fast! And since it was most people’s Christmas party the boys had to put a number of Christmas songs in their set and the first one came when they sang Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas which most people joined in with. For the first time ever, despite knowing most of the songs I rarely joined in, I just took in the four lads vocals and how they blended so well together.
They really knew how to please the crowd as each one picked out a girl in the crowd to be “my girl.” Mancunian Mark managed to pick out his mum in the audience and dedicate it to her. Even though the four of them had generated a party atmosphere the inevitable moment occurred next and over the course of a few minutes there was not a dry eye left in the house. The four spoke of the loss of Timmy, how it had affected them all and how it brought them closer together as a band of brothers and they spoke of the decision they had to make - whether to continue The Overtones or not. They then performed the last song they ever recorded with Timmy, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow and it was a powerful moment when the recording of Timmy’s vocals kicked in and images appeared on the screen behind the band and the four lads. I don’t know how they held it together to sing harmonies over the top, certainly nobody in the audience managed it, I looked around the room to see a Mexican wave of people reaching for their packet of Kleenex. Their rendition of Goodbye which follows Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow on their record as well added to the emotion and fitting tribute to their friend.
Then the mood and emotion changed as they sang Say a Little Prayer and took it up a level. They had promised to sing every song off their latest record and so after Can’t Take my Eyes Off You they went for a short break but there was much more to come. When they returned they had swapped their different suits to matching Blue suits and matching blue shoes that apparently all four of them hated. They were brilliant at interacting with the rowdy crowd and brought the perfect amount of humour to the show. They continued the set with a couple of originals off the new, self titled record, Stand Up and By My Side, the crowd didn’t die down, they loved these two songs as much as the classics and if they weren’t on their feet at the start of each song they were by the end of each song, almost like a standing ovation but after every song! I really enjoyed the Christmas songs they included as did everyone else and since they were selling Santa hats at the merch stand, it really did get everyone in party spirits. The Overtones do a fantastic version of Driving Home for Christmas, it was one of my favourites of the show.
Give Me Just a Little More Time was brilliant, their harmonies intertwined so smoothly and from here on out it was a party right through to the end. Pretty Woman went down a treat with the crowd as most joined in, still Lockie asked the remaining members of the crowd to join in on the next one as “everyone knows this one” he said. Sure enough as they broke out into Let it Snow and held out the mics occasionally on the chorus the crowd sang at the top of their voices. They concluded with Save The Last Dance For Me followed by Love is in the Air as Love hearts burst on the screen behind them and the crowd hugged one another and swayed along. The Overtones then came together and hugged each other before taking a bow and making heart shapes with their hands. Not only are Mark, Lockie, Mike and Darren flawless vocalists, they are true entertainers who took the Manchester crowd on a journey of emotions. Never have I seen a crowd react that passionately to an artist before and the Overtones gave their all.