The only show to be endorsed by the Cash family is back on top form with a brand new production for 2019. Award winning front man Clive John dedicates this year to a 50thanniversary tour of the legendary San Quentin State Prison recordings which was televised on Granada Television on February 24th 1969, and later released on June 4 of that same year. Alongside Clive is his iconic wife June Carter played by Emily Heighway, a world class band (Spirit band) and the JCR horns.  All supported with full video projection. This show is simply the biggest and best celebration of Johnny Cash in the world today. Songs from the San Quentin live album will be performed mixed with all the hits and favourite songs that we all know and love.

 

There has to be something very enticing on at the theatre to get me out of the house on a rainy cold December evening.  The Johnny Cash Roadshow is one of those productions which offer just that in the form of respite from a drab night in front of the telly.  It delivers the prospect of a whole load of quality material written by the iconic Man in Black and delivered by the best tribute to the real thing in the form of Clive John and his impressive band of musicians. 

The Johnny Cash Roadshow is the only tribute to be endorsed by the Cash family and it is easy to see why.  The stage set is authentic and intimate.  Clive John recreates the moody and soulful persona of one of the greatest modern day singers of our time.  John delivers on the powerful and emotive repertoire of songs with support from an accomplished and diverse band who not only look the part but who also work hard to recreate the atmosphere of an actual Cash concert.

Johnny Cash was a singer who wore his heart on his sleeve.  He was a man who epitomised masculinity but like many men, had a softer and more humanitarian side which he did not shirk from and which he explored in his lyrics and in his support for causes which he felt were worthy, such as prison reform.  Cash knew hardship in the American pre and post war periods and he understood societal constraints.  As such, he was admired by men and women who not only loved his voice but also appreciated his candour at telling a story through song with raw visceral openness and honesty.  Cash was also unusual in the sense that he crossed the barriers of country, rock and roll, blues, rockabilly, gospel and folk.  It was probably because of that mix of genres and integrity that he remained at the top of his game through the decades.

Clive John is clearly as passionate about Cash as the legion of fans who still want to experience a live concert in honour of their idol.  Opening with Folsom Prison Blues, John’s voice and persona proved exciting and realistic to the Cash character.  For a moment it was easy to imagine that John was the actual Man in Black as he seamlessly moved onto the second track of that title, giving a classic performance and emanating the epitome of cool which Cash did so well.  With audio visual imagery displayed on a large screen throughout the concert supporting the sound and atmosphere, the whole roadshow package results in a feast for the senses and a multi-dimensional experience for the audience.  For any Cash fan, it is as near to the real thing that is possible to get.  The band does much to ensure this.  Nick Davis on guitars, Martin Bentley on bass, Grahm Cuttill on drums and the wonderful Emily Heighway as the formidable June Carter are all outstanding and engaging.  Heighway in particular is incredibly convincing in voice and instrumentation, playing Carter’s signature autoharp to perfection.       

Classic numbers such as 40 Shades of Green about Cash’s love of Ireland, the phenomenal Ring of Fire, the incredibly popular Jackson with the beautiful voice of Heighway,  the first hit on Sun Records…Cry, Cry, Cry, the melancholic Oh Lonesome Me and the emotive A Thing Called Love all had the audience clamouring for more.  Each song tells a story and after over a decade on the road, The Johnny Cash Roadshow production team understand that the thirst for such music a is alive and well and they pull out all the stops to ensure that a trip to see Clive John and his show is one which is exciting, memorable and quite frankly, unforgettable.     

Carol Lovatt - review of performance at Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunday 2 December


4 Stars on Tue, 04 Dec 2018

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