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REVIEW: Damien Leith – Roy Orbison Orchestrated

Review by Markus Hamence – Performance date: Friday 10 May 2024, Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide, South Australia

Friday night, I had the pleasure of attending ‘Damien Leith: Roy Orbison Orchestrated’, essentially a tribute show that reimagines Roy Orbison’s greatest hits with a full orchestral backdrop. For fans of Orbison and newcomers alike, Damien Leith’s performance was not just a musical event; it was a heartfelt homage to one of rock and roll’s most unforgettable voices.

Held in the sophisticated Her Majesty’s Theatre in Adelaide that perfectly accommodated the orchestral arrangement, the venue itself set the tone for the evening. Acoustically the venue is brilliant. The audience, a mostly of mature age, clearly shared a deep appreciation for the music about to unfold.

Damien Leith Shines with Orbison’s Classics

Opening with ‘Blue Angel’ setting the tone, Damien Leith, known for his win on ‘Australian Idol’ (how was his time on the show 17 years ago) and his remarkable musical career post-show, took to the stage with a presence (a spectacular silver shoes) that was both humble and commanding. His interpretation of Roy Orbison’s unique sound was both respectful and innovative. Leith’s voice soared through classics like ‘Only the Lonely’, ‘Crying’ and ‘Oh, Pretty Woman’, each delivered with a immeasurable passion that Roy himself would have been proud of (this was indeed backed-up by Roy’s now late wife, Barbara at the time of hearing Damien’s take on the songs).

It is also Damien’s collaboration (and now friendship) with Joe Melson who wrote many of Orbison’s songs (Including Blue Bayou) that has given part to this show many of it’s authentic and respected credentials. Damien and Joe now write songs together and it’s going to be quite the joy watching and listening to what more they produce together.

The Band

Fronting the stage with our leading man is the band. Damien’s band play somewhat effortlessly. Cesar Martin, Chris Alford, Tommy Novak, Fabrizio Cmodei and the charismatic Eric Aranda support the guitar armed Damien magnificently with their respective instruments. Dressed in all white the guys play strong and confidently hitting each mark with the backdropped orchestra…

The Orchestral Arrangement

What set this show apart was the lush orchestral arrangements that accompanied each song. The huge 35 piece symphony (Adelaide based) and headed by the illustrious Emma Greehill (who composed all the songs) added layers of emotional depth and richness to Orbison’s already powerful tunes. The strings swelled and the horns declared, creating a soundscape that was nothing short of mesmerizing. It was clear that the orchestrator had done their homework, ensuring that each nuance of Orbison’s music was enhanced, not overshadowed, by the orchestra.

The Emotional Highs

One of the most poignant moments of the night was Leith’s rendition of ‘In Dreams’, it stopped us in our thoughts. The combination of his emotive delivery and the haunting strings section moved many in the audience to tears. It was a testament to the enduring power of Orbison’s songwriting and Leith’s skill as a performer and soarinlgy good vocals.

Conclusion: A Must-See for Orbison Fans

Overall, ‘Damien Leith: Roy Orbison Orchestrated’ is a must-see show for anyone who cherishes the legacy of Roy Orbison or enjoys a beautifully crafted tribute performance. Leith not only pays respect to Orbison’s work but also brings a fresh vibrancy to it, bridged beautifully by the orchestral arrangement. It’s a heartfelt, beautifully performed homage that resonates with audiences young and old. Whether you’re a lifelong Orbison fan or just discovering his music, this show is a deeply satisfying musical journey.

Keep up to date with Damien Leith, his music and his shows here.

Damien Leith and Markus Hamence backstage after the show 10/05/2024
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