Brighton Fringe 2011
Movin Melvin Brown’s new show, Soul to Soul takes us through the history of soul music from slavery to James Brown in an energetic and glorious 90 minutes. Melvin Brown’s sheer love of this music shines through him, and his passion for soul is irresistible.
Movin Melvin Brown combines storytelling, songs, tap, clogging, juke dancing, rock and roll, and even robotics in a thrilling and uplifting 90 minutes. Dressed at first in torn dungarees, his history of slave music incorporates spirituals and a revivalist church song which is impossible to sit still to.
Introducing the slaves’ need to reclaim the rhythms of Africa, Brown launches into a phenomenal tap routine in which the rhythm comes through his whole body. In fact, throughout the show, he can’t stop his feet from expressing his joy of the music : he performs a strange but wonderful rendition of River Dance as danced by Michael Jackson, robotics meeting Irish dancing, and towards the end of the show, calls people up on stage to dance with him in a song incorporating jive, twist, the monkey, the mashed potato, and others.
When Brown changes into the tangerine suit of a 50’s Otis Redding, and tells the story of Otis’s arrival on the scene, the mood shifts. He performs a medley of classic Otis songs – Mr Pitiful, Sitting in the dock of the Bay, Try a Little Tenderness. This is no standard tribute act: Brown has shared the stage with The Four Tops, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Willie Nelson and James Brown and he recreates the style of Redding without losing his own charisma.
After the break, he emerges as James Brown, complete with wig! With amazing support from the band, and in powerful voice, the climax of this set of songs is his version of Please Please Please.
In the end, as an encore, Brown returns as himself, with his infectious deep belly laugh and beautiful powerful voice, in a way, he doesn’t need the costumes, though they are fun. The final rendition of Stand by Me has the Sunday evening audience singing along enthusiastically.
This is a man not to be missed if and when he returns to the Brighton Festival