Queen guitarist, Brian May and West End and Broadway songstress, Kerry Ellis are no strangers to touring together. The pair first performed shows together in 2011 and have since gone on to release a single and play more dates in the UK and Europe, and all of this culminated in a show at Montreux Jazz Festival in 2013. The concert was recorded and filmed and will now be released on CD, DVD and Blu-ray.
The Candlelight Concerts – Live at Montreux was designed to be like having two talented artists performing together in your house. The backdrop on stage and the set has some candles and the night begins with a reverential air. This subsequently closes in to transform the Stravinski auditorium into a warm and intimate space with the process seeming like a large hug. May and Ellis do an excellent job of engaging the audience with engrossing and informative dialogue that only adds to the close, family-like atmosphere of the proceedings.
The pair perform a raw, stripped back set with May playing mostly acoustic but occasionally the electric guitar and they are joined by Jeff Leach on keys. The group perform Queen songs plus old standards and covers. There is a great chemistry between the artists and this translates into a good sense of feeling and emotion underpinning this beautiful and atmospheric pop/rock music.
May does an excellent job of wringing all sorts of emotion out of his guitar playing while Ellis’ gorgeous voice is full of theatrics (no doubt a result of her day job). ‘I Who Have Nothing’ is a romantic start to the show and a sweet ballad before the prophetic and profoundly sad Kansas cover, ‘Dust In The Wind’. May and Ellis then perform their charity single, ‘Born Free’ (a track made famous by Barbara Streisand) which is accompanied by excerpts from a video featuring animals filmed in Africa. Animal conservation and welfare is a topic that is close to both of the stars’ hearts and this is especially obvious during “Nothing Really Has Changed” (this song appears twice with the second version being a bonus track).
The classic Beatles song, ‘Something’ is performed well, as May plays some sublime acoustic guitar but sadly Ellis has changed the lyrics so that she could sing it about a man (rather than George Harrison’s then love, Pattie Boyd) and this makes it a tad hollow. The Brian May solo staple and instrumental, ‘Lost Horizon” is also performed and while poignant and sad in its build-up, it does at times verge on indulgence. The numbers that received the best reception of the night were undoubtedly the Queen favourites, ‘Somebody To Love’, ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ and ‘We Will Rock You’ (the latter an all-stomping sing-along for the Queen fans in the audience).
Brian May and Kerry Ellis’ performance at Montreux is an engaging show that is full of sensitive and touching moments, especially when they play such respectful tributes to some late, great musicians (like Freddie Mercury and George Harrison). This intimate concert is a grand spectacle that is full of feeling and above all, has an amazing atmosphere. This means it is the sort of show that people will want to enjoy and share more than once.
Originally published on 3 April 2014 at the following website: http://sfmedia.com.au/brian-may-kerry-ellis-the-candlelight-concerts-live-at-montreux-2013-dvd-review/
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