FRINGE 2013 – I Wish I was Him – A Ben Lee Tribute – Palky et al – Star Theatres – 3K

By Peter Maddern

As our host and lead singer, Ben Palk, pointed out early on in this show if you had called it a night of Lee covers no one would have turned up, but call it a tribute show (even if the subject of the adoration is more than alive and well) and people flock.

Well flock may be a bit strong, (though the delightful Star Theatres Chapel room was mostly filled),  but mid thirties Palky certainly intended this show to fulfil a dream – his own Fringe show – and the hell with the rest of us or as he put it ‘it’s all about Palky’.

On stage he brought eight other performers – the Surrenderers – who unquestionably were well drilled and highly competent, even if Palk named another band as the best he had ever played with. The banter was good fun and Palk’s interweaving of his own life’s journey with Mr Lee’s was interesting if at time a tad self indulgent.

Unfortunately, three things dogged the show. The first may have been unavoidable and that was Palky had a cold which clearly was affecting his voice and thus the impact of the songs on the audience. The other two were rather more by choice. The mixing meant that those placed waywardly on the stage – trumpet player Andrew Marshall and the three female singers, ‘the Claire Dames’, were also hardly heard. It seems to be endemic problem with rock bands that look to expand on their sound that despite the best of intentions once the ‘bolts with the volts’ get set there are not too many decibels left in the speakers for the lungs driven talent.

And then finally there was the length of the show! This reviewer left after the designated length in the Fringe guide had been reached which happened to be just as the second half was about to boot up. God only knows when it did finish (if indeed it has) but tributes and dreams are one thing, respecting the patience of your audience is another.

Good fun for 90 mins, better fun for Lee aficionados, best fun for Ben.

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