First Night Review: The Osmonds, Colston Hall, Bristol
by Simon Gage
March 13, 2012
Submitted by Diane Leigh
||“IN the olden days you used to throw underwear, now you throw tissues,” says Jimmy, as a heavily sweating Jay stands up from his drum solo. “Are we really that old?”
Well, of course they are. Though to be fair, the 50-something audience of very excited ladies who jumped to their feet at the first notes of Crazy Horses are probably wearing underwear so sturdy it would knock out Jimmy, Merrill and Jay if it hit them.
The numbers are down to just three – Donny is in Vegas with Marie, Alan has multiple sclerosis and Wayne is incapacitated (“He was so excited about the tour he had a stroke!” says Jimmy, adding that Wayne hopes to join them later in the 50-date tour). And you can’t help but wonder whether these veteran heart-throbs, now looking like a grizzled version of Alvin and the Chipmunks, will be able to pull it off.
But far from flogging a dead crazy horse, they seem to have mileage even without Donny who gets the biggest cheer whenever he is mentioned. Not only are they in very good voice, as the barbershop segments of the evening prove, they are in good spirits before a crowd that is, frankly, not that hard a sell. Middle-aged women are openly sobbing, clinging to each other and waving their arms. Most of them don’t sit down for a single minute.
The sound is good (a tight little four-piece band keeps things chugging along), but it’s a great sense of humour that really hits the spot with a crowd that does include some fairly enthusiastic husbands as well as daughters and grand-daughters. That, and the entirely unapologetic reliance on nostalgia: Film of The Osmonds in their heyday plays behind them for much of the show.
And it’s an honest show: With no Donny there’s no attempt at Puppy Love, while Jimmy mucks about with a ventriloquist’s dummy for Long-Haired Lover From Liverpool.
“Fifty-four years in showbusiness,” he shouts to cheers. “A hundred million records sold. We even had a couple of good ones…”, the best of which, Love Me For A Reason, gets things so heated that audience security starts patrolling. It probably won’t mean that much to the handful of youngsters who have been dragged along, but they will have enjoyed the sight of grandma completely losing it and chanting: “We love The Osmonds,” at the top of her lungs.