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    Tags: The_Buddy_Holly_Story, Liverpool_Empire, Lewis_Ridley

    The Buddy Holly Story will have you dancing the night away!

    Photographs by Jonny Wilkinson


    The year is 1957, and Hipockets Duncan (Matthew Quinn) is presenting KDAV Radio, introducing the latest up and coming country and western trio, but there’s a surprise in store. Yes, it’s actually 60 years on in Liverpool’s Empire Theatre, and the act he was so excited to play is Buddy Holly and The Crickets, but there’s not much country about them...


    The radio station descends into chaos; a young and ambitious Buddy, played by Glen Joseph, screams that “it’s what the kids wanna hear!” Of course those kids make up some of the audience in the Empire, and they were treated to a night of nostalgia by way of some of rock and roll’s greatest hits. 


    The Buddy Holly Story tells the tale of one of the best young talents to come out of the US, including his signing with Decca Records and recording The Crickets’ first demo tapes with Norman Petty (Alex Tosh) that began a star career.


    Songs like, ‘That’ll Be The Day’ and ‘Peggy Sue’ have the audience smiling and in parts reminiscing. Buddy and his Crickets find themselves in Harlem where they turn racial adversity into mutual celebration of this new style of music rip-roaring its way around the country and beyond. Retro radio ads segment the performance, as well as announcements from many of the US states and the UK that Buddy Holly and The Crickets’ are topping the charts.


    There’s romance too, as Buddy marries Marie Elena (Kerry Low). When he calls his Mother back in Lubbock, Texas, of course her main concern is whether her son, still fresh-faced with his iconic glasses, has eaten. It isn’t all fun and laughter though, and the story is told of The Crickets’ sadly parting ways before Holly heads on tour with The Big Bopper (Thomas Mitchells) and Richie Valens (Jordan Cunningham). Both legends perform some well known hits, including ‘La Bamba’, signified with lots of colour and lots more hip movement from Clear Lake in Iowa.


    The curtain closes, and left on stage is a single acoustic guitar. The voice of Hipockets is heard announcing the death of Holly, The Big Bopper and Richie Valens. At just 22, the world had lost one of its most loved rock and roll stars. Holly was an icon for a certain John and Paul, and the inspiration for so many more great bands and artists. But in The Buddy Holly Story, his spirit lives on, and the stage is alive once more with the sound of ‘Johnny B. Goode’ which has the audience on their feet, followed by ‘Oh Boy’ from the demand of an encore. 


    The Liverpool audience is left wondering what might have been had Holly not been taken so young, but what isn’t left to ponder is the quality of The Buddy Holly Story, which on Thursday threw a delighted audience back to the 1950s. And the rest, say the final words of the show, is rock and roll...



    5 stars



    By Lewis Ridley



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