Debbie has them dancing in the aisles at the London Palladium!
|Debbie Curtis Radio Big Band
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Big Band came home to the London Palladium for a Sunday Night Swing
Session after nearly 60 years in the absence!
The Debbie Curtis Radio Big
Band, complete with Hobsons Choice Re-Enactors and Dancers, Glenn Miller’s nephew John Miller, Broadcaster Patrick Lunt
and a surprise appearance by unbilled vocalist Iain Ewing swung London’s most prestigious theatre back to the days
when Sunday Night Swing Sessions were just as popular as today’s resident show, The Sound of Music.
This was not just a concert,
it was a sleek, well produced show and the entertainment began well before the audience took their seats.
End traffic temporarily ground to a halt when around 40 re-enactors dressed in 1940’s civilian and military
costumes took to the street outside the Palladium entrance to entertain the crowds with jive and jitterbug dancing!
Larger than life character ‘Viv the Spiv’ had the public in stitches
with his 1940’s wit as he gave them a taste of how the wartime spivs peddled their black market goods on the streets,
from nylon stockings to ration cards and tins of spam!
The crowd were further delighted
when Debbie Curtis & John Miller left the confines of their dressing rooms to come outside and join the re-enactors and
dancers for a meet and greet as the audience began to arrive.
As curtain up approached,
there was an air of anticipation inside the theatre, this was the first time a show of this type had been staged at the London
Palladium since Ted Heath closed there in the 1950’s and aside of the fact that Debbie Curtis is young, she is also
the UK’s only female Big Band leader from only a few throughout history!
Patrick Lunt introduced the show from in front of the curtain, he spoke about the history of the Palladium and Big Bands,
about how the music all started with Benny Goodman and about how unique Debbie is, not only as a band leader but also as an
individual, plus her determination to bring the music to a wider and especially younger audience. He said, “Debbie told
me one day, “I’m going to hire the London Palladium and recreate the Sunday Night Swing Sessions” “and
He finished with “Music
Maestro Please” and the curtain raised to the sound of Debbie and the 16 strong band performing St Louis Blues March.
The stage was shrouded in a brilliantly lit mist with colour one would normally expect at a Robbie Williams stadium show.
From that moment on, the
audience was Debbie’s, they cheered and whistled their appreciation of every number performed throughout the show and
by the end, there were people literally dancing in the aisles.
Hobsons Choice dancers, joined
the band on stage regularly throughout the show, a wide range of ages, their dancing was dazzling and had the audience cheering
mid songs as they jived and jitterbugged!
To one side of the stage,
a small, ghostly group of re-enactors sat around a table playing cards and conversing giving an impression of what life would
have been like for the ordinary person during the war years. On the other side, re-enactors appeared and then faded away under
the light of a 1940’s street lamp.
Viv the Spiv made several
appearances throughout the show as did wartime bobby ‘Sergeant Brighton’ who at one point chased Viv around the
auditorium before arresting him for peddling black market goods!
The band performed faultlessly,
smart and polished, every note played sounded sweet to the ear. Fine solos were turned out by every band member at some point
in the show, especially noticeable were Bob Cutting on Trumpet for You Made Me Love You, Saxophonist Loren Hignell with the
Pink Panther Theme, Lee Hallam with Wish Upon A Star and when drummer Bob Howard went solo for Gene Krupa's Leave Us Leap,
the audience went wild!
Throughout the show, leader
Debbie kept the band totally disciplined and together, clearly commanding every tempo from start to finish. She included many
popular favourites such as Woodchoppers Ball, Harlem Nocturne & her personal favourite ‘Autumn Leaves’
She provided her well oiled
vocals on songs such as Tuxedo Junction, Sentimental Journey and Indian Love Call.
Featured vocalist John Miller
turned out great numbers such as Chattanooga Choo Choo, Under My Skin, At Last, Pennsylvania 65000, Nice & Easy and Beyond the Sea.
The big surprise came when
shortly before the end Debbie announced to the audience that whilst looking through the MySpace website, she had come across
vocalist Iain Ewing from Glasgow and had asked him down to London
to see the show. Totally unrehearsed she invited him to leave his seat in the audience and join the band on stage to perform
Mac The Knife, this was clearly a surprise to him and the band who were then told by Debbie that she had slipped the arrangement
into their music pads during the interval.
The audience were clearly
delighted by this impromptu performance and sounded their appreciation when Iain took hold of a microphone and told them that
he had originally intended to fly down but had instead come on a bus after the airport was attacked by terrorists, his comment
that we weren’t beaten in 1945 and wouldn’t be beaten now was met with rapturous applause.
Iain then turned out a fantastic
performance of Mac the Knife and filled the stage with his presence. The audience loved it!
Throughout the show it was
clear that Debbie Curtis knows what she wants to do with this music, she obviously knows the history and has a passion for
it inherited from her late father, trombonist and band leader Eddie Curtis.
The show wasn’t just
about 40’s music; it was about music performed by a big band without a Marshall amp in sight! Her arrangement of the Hawaii Five
O theme tune was greeted with gasps of excitement from the crowd.
All great things have to
come to an end and when met with a standing ovation Debbie encored and finished the show with Glenn Miller’s ‘In
The Mood’ but not the Miller version, a more modern ‘Doc Severinson’ arrangement which had the audience
leaving their seats to dance in the aisles.
reluctantly left the theatre clearly wishing the 2 hour show could have gone on for a lot longer!
MD & Vocals-
Vocalist - John Miller
Vocalist - Iain Ewing
- Patrick Lunt
Geoff Eales, Roy Babbington,
Bob Howard, Bob Cutting, Martin Shaw, Mark White, Mike Nickel, Lee Hallam, Bob Wilson, Dave Pearce, Robin Turner, Eddie Mordue,
Paul Jones, Mark Alloway, Loren Hignell, Ronnie Mackie.
Hobsons Choice Dancers
Iain Dawson & Laura Strecker, Gypsy John & Karen Newson, Derek Webber
& Victoria Hunt, Colin & Amanda White, Mark Tann & Julie Candy, Ziggie Ward & Jenny Brier.
Hobsons Choice 1940's Re-Enactors
Viv The Spiv, Sergeant
John Brighton, John Turner, John Thacker, Mike Authors, Jan Marie Allen, John Brown, Mike Barr, John Butcher, Steve Challis,
Mike Denny, Karen Denny, Peter Davies, Helen Davies, Jean Fleming, Lord & Lady Irving, Colin Murray, Annette Murray, Mike
Ohalloaoran, Rob Osborn, Lyn Osborn, Robert Parton, Jaqueline Parton, Andy Pike, Sandy Parker, Peter Parker, Peter Valentine,
Terry Williams, Tina Waller, Des Waller
Great Stuff ! A really enjoyable night. Viv the Spiv and the Copper really made the evening ! Lets see more of the same
It turned out to be a good night in London. We thought Debbie and the band were wonderful, as was John Miller. We loved
the big band music. Viv the Spiv was a great 'laughs man' , keep going mate! The military couple and the two young female
dancers were brilliant! The costumes and outfits finished the show. We hope to come in September
Mary and Graham
Viv The Spiv, fantastic, great dancer and actor, best in show, wow, what a hunk, he can sell me black market stuff any
Well done Debs! Will we get to hear you out here in New Zealand?
Discussions under way for the USA, but not New Zealand at present, we'd love to come there, nag a
promoter to book us!
Great to see Ian hitting the boards of the Palladium, he will be performing at our fundraiser in Paisley on 3rd November
with Brass Impact Big Band, he is awsome!
What a fantastic evening, we are all still talking about it. Debbie really makes the band swing and John Miller and Iain
gave us all a vocal treat! The spiv was a hoot and straight from the forties - superb!!! can't wait till the next one !
Richard & Sandra Bowman
I've been to hundreds of Big Band shows, this was the best I have ever seen, thank you for a fantastic evening of entertainment.
Better than any band I have ever seen!
Loved the show! Had a brilliant night, John Miller was excellent!
Hannah & Lauren
Simply Marvellous!! I do hope you will make this a regular thing!!
It was Awesome!
The five hour drive from Louth, Lincolnshire for the London Palladium concert was well worth it. The band were on top-form,
and the musicians are all top-rate professionals. John and Debbie make a good team, and we hope to see the band go from strength
Angela & Peter Pearce
We thoroughly enjoyed it, Glenn Miller's nephew was great and the guy who came down from Scotland was terrific.
Just a wee note to say that Iain Ewing's wife and babies are very proud of him, and look forward to meeting you and hearing
the band when the next opportunity comes up. Congratulations on a successful show!
It was absolutely
amazing. The atmosphere was electric and the audience was totally wow'd. All walks of life were in the audience and everyone
was blown away by the talent and professionalism in the whole big band that you have recreated. You managed to keep the whole
thing glued together as MD brilliantly - the re-enactors kept the mood in the place it was meant to be and it was great watching
all the jitter bug and jive dancing going on to exceptional live music. The evening made a whole lot of people very very happy!
Bravo Debbie Curtis - BRAVO!!
Richard and Kim Dubovie
Excellent show on Sunday night
It was a last minute decision to attend, as I had cancelled going to an outdoor
concert, and I am so pleased I went.
Myself and staff came and had a great time.
FANTASTIC…a really great night!
You and your band were great, John Miller was excellent, Iain Ewing an absolute find.
Hobson’s Choice turned an already great concert into a really great event.
The Palladium was great. Looking forward to seeing you again...very soon I hope
I was at the Palladium - brilliant!
Let me say how much I enjoyed Sunday at the London Palladium. I tapped my feet from the beginning and was one of those
in the aisles and then up on stage, I am now truly hooked!
Thanks for a great night at The Palladium.
I had a fabulous time with my friend!
John Miller, the dancers and spiv, outfits and other characters really made the evening entertaining
Thanks for a great show at the LP last night. Great programme including the variety of arrangements. Band
sounded great, a sparkling sax section! and the tightest bones we’ve heard for a long time! And as for Leave us
What can we say but FANTASTIC !! A wonderful night and we will tell all our friends to get along to the next
Brian & Heather Hill
Congratulations!...... Great Show!........Great Achievment!........
Well done, you can all be proud!
Congratulations on bringing Swing back to the Palladium
Just wanted to say "Bloody fantastic Night" Well done!
What a fantastic show last night, it was really brilliant! John Miller has a beautiful voice and also your guest singer