Hallowe’en and a wet miserable Newport evening doesn’t inspire many people to go out, but faced with the prospect of trick or treating, I certainly felt the need of a treat of the music kind. The FlyBoys, who took to the stage of Newport’s Riverfront Theatre on Thursday night were certainly going to provide that!
The FlyBoys website boldly proclaims, “Imagine today’s pop songs in yesterday’s style”, but this show was much better that that! Not only did they convert some of today’s best-known songs into the classic 30s and 40s Jazz music genre, but also seamlessly mixed in songs from that era into the music of today.
Bouncing onto the stage to the sound of their 6-piece band, it was clear The FlyBoys, consisting of Newport’s own Christopher J Orton along with Michael Hutchings, David Luke and Tim Bonser were excited to be performing at The Riverfront. The songs of Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway and Judy Garland neatly mingled in with the contemporary styles of Pharrell Williams, Ricky Martin and Maroon 5, in a way that has scarcely been seen before.
There were stand-out performances of a cross-range of hits including Blurred Lines, Moves Like Jagger, Thinking Out Loud and For Once in My Life. I thought the FlyBoys version of one of my favourite songs, Ricky Martin’s Living La Vida Loca, was particularly outstanding, with just the right amount of swing. One of the all-time classic rock songs, Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer, also got The FlyBoys treatment, presented with a classic jazz style but maintaining the songs original feel.
There were also a few surprises during the evening, including another FlyBoy, Craig Rhys Barlow, stepping up from the audience to join the boys on stage to perform a version of Adele’s Rolling in the Deep, a track given The FlyBoys treatment for a Cruise Ship set. There was also a unique “Swingified” rendition of The Bangles classic, Walk Like an Egyptian.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was the group’s explanation that this was their first full-length solo show, having only performed shorter sets previously. I would never have known this, as their stage presence and performance was smooth in every way.
The show ended with The FlyBoys getting the audience out of their seats and dancing to an uplifting mix of Pharrell Williams’ Happy combined with Judy Garland’s Get Happy. Feelgood factor from start to finish, The FlyBoys’ Stranger Swings was a treat of a show!