Reviews/Fringe World Festival/Music

Born to dance

8 February 2019

Fringe World review: Brown Record Label, Movin’ Melvin Brown – A Man, A Magic, A Music! ⋅
Big Top at Sunset Veranda,  February 7 ⋅
Review by Robert Housley ⋅

An artist who frequented a nightclub in the fifties where B.B. King performed and in the seventies had Lionel Richie and the Commodores support their band has certainly been places as a musician. The multi-talented and truly extraordinary ‘Movin Melvin Brown’ has been there, back and around the world in a life of entertainment so rich it is almost beyond belief.

The promotional material describes him as ‘the last of the great Song (and) Dance Men’, but he is so much more. Yes, he can sing like an angel (his beautiful  The Great Pretender) and growl like Louis Armstrong. He also covers a wide range of almost exclusively African American artists including Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, The Temptations, James Brown and many more, paying tribute to the originals while also making them his own.

Dressed in a white suit and tails with matching waistcoat and a dapper red silk shirt, it is clear where his Movin’ moniker comes from. He was born to dance. Be it simply the physical manifestation of a song’s rhythms or recognised dance styles such a tap, the twist or disco – even Michael Jackson’s moonwalk – he never lets up. What makes him all the more remarkable is that he is 74 this year!

Being as fit as the proverbial fiddle makes it all possible, but this show is more a testament to the man himself and his life experience through music and entertainment. He tells his story with considerable humour, humanity and intelligence, not shying away from his experiences of racism, nor being embittered by them. He beautifully intertwines his evolution as a performer and a person with the emerging acceptance and prominence of African-American music. And just when you think there is nothing more tell his remarkable life story has yet another twist in its tail.

Brown’s ear-to-ear smile, live-and-let-live attitude and infectious, melodic laugh – a deep, slow ha, ha, ha – helped entrance the opening night audience who succumbed to the warmth of this generous and talented man.

Don’t miss the second and final performance of  Movin’ Melvin Brown – A Man, A Magic, A Music! on February 10.

Brown also performs Movin’ Melvin Brown – Chuck Berry Lives! from February 8-16.

Pictured top: Melvin Brown. Photo Maree Laffan.


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Author —
Robert Housley

Robert Housley returns to arts journalism following a 20-year hiatus managing performing arts venues. He was the last arts editor of Perth’s Daily News and has worked as a journalist in London, Cape Town and Amsterdam. Robert’s favourite item of playground equipment is the swing and its enduring challenge: how high can you go?

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