How aptly named is Movin’ Melvin Brown. That minstrel man can move. Throughout the show, he struts his stuff, tap-dancin’ and moonwalkin’, rockin’ and a-rollin’, swingin’ and a twistin’ the night away.
Incredibly, considering the effort he puts into his moves, Brown repeatedly slides seamlessly onto croonin’ a ballad or beltin’ out a blues number – with ne’er a puff or a pant of breath to give away any sign of exertion.
Tip-tapping his way onto the stage in a striped three-piece suit, and with a grin as wide as the Great Plains of Texas, Brown is such a trouper; professional and polished. He show is like going back in time to the era of the song-and-dance man.
In The Ray Charles Experience, he tells snippets of the story of Charles, who died in 2004, and sings a selection of songs covering his musical legacy: from jazz to blues, gospel to ballad, and, of course, soul.
The backing band – keys, guitar, drums and bass – move along with Brown as he gives Ray-Charles-like renditions of songs such as “Hit the Road Jack”, “Let it Be”, “You Don’t know Me”, “Unchain My Heart” and his signature piece, “Georgia on My Mind”, Charles’ number-one pop hit of 1960.
Maybe it was the mixing, but it seemed like Brown was fighting to be heard above the volume of the band during much of the show I saw. But he did not have any trouble getting our attention at his third costume change: a gold lamé number!
With a sparse audience of around 40, it wasn’t easy to ramp up energy in the room. Nevertheless, he got us onto our feet. More than once. You can imagine Melvin Brown lifting the rafters in a packed house. He deserves a bigger audience.
Movin’ Melvin Brown: The Ray Charles Experience is at The Garage International @ Adelaide Town Hall until March 9.
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