Anna Brosnan reviews Jason Donovan’s show at the Royal & Derngate, Northampton on February 28
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, the Neighbours factor had a huge impact on the popular music scene.
The effect of Kylie and Jason’s sunshine smiles, swishy hair and general chirpiness on a generation of children and teenagers should not be underestimated.
Just as these kids sat down at teatime to catch up with Scott and Charlene’s antics on the much-loved TV soap, they also forked out their pocket money on the stars’ latest releases from the Stock, Aitken and Waterman hit factory.
Nowadays Kylie and Jason are still in the limelight, and their fans are still there too; albeit with a few more wrinkles.
Jason Donovan’s decision to perform a solo tour of his debut album (released in 1989), Ten Good Reasons, and his Greatest Hits album, was a shrewd move.
Memories of my 12-year-old self got me through the doors of the Royal & Derngate last night to see Jason’s show. So many years after the release of this album, I wasn’t sure how many people would join me - but the theatre was packed.
Watching Jason perform these songs was an interesting experience because it really revealed what a seasoned performer he now is.
He has an impressive CV that goes way beyond this era in his life, but he delivered the music with unashamed commitment to nostalgia. Hits such as Too Many Broken Hearts, So Happy Together, Sealed with A Kiss and Ten Good Reasons were performed with energy and undiminished vocal talent. But he was never too far from approaching the situation with some ‘tongue in cheek’ humour. For example, whenever an enthusiastic fan shouted “I love you, Jason” he would dryly reply “thank you, I love me too.”
The Ten Good Reasons songs are not deep , profound or revolutionary, but they are products of their time, largely upbeat and always memorable. Just as he did in the ‘80s, Jason performs this music with charm, talent and a lot of on-stage charisma.
The tour’s nod to something more up-to-date is Jason’s support act, Mon Amie; a girl group formerly seen on X Factor. They demonstrated some great harmonies and vocal reaches in songs such as Don’t Let Go. Nonetheless, they seemed to receive a bit of a lukewarm response from the theatre packed with Jason devotees.
I would definitely recommend the tour to anyone who loves ‘80s and ‘90s nostalgia, anyone who has a sneaking desire to see Scott and Charlene once more reunited on the Neighbours set and, most of all, people who appreciate Jason for the veteran performer he now is.