Christmas is upon us and The Overtones brought some early festive cheer with their Christmas Party Tour which visited Gateshead, Liverpool, Salford, Sheffield and Harrogate’s Royal Hall. A packed house enjoyed a fabulous evening of musical fun with a seasonal twist as the boys introduced their latest member.
Opening the show, singer-songwriter Ben McKelvey said how good it was to be back on tour. He added that this was his second tour with The Overtones and how much he enjoys working with them. “I’m here to warm you all up,” said Ben as he opened his set with Fire from Wild Child, his first album to reach the UK albums chart. Ben also paid tribute to his dad for his help and encouragement in pursuing his musical career. His set was confident and included Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire and the self-penned Steady On.
With the audience duly warmed up, The Overtones arrived on stage down a short staircase, delivering Christmas, Baby Please Come Home with their usual crowd-pleasing charm. The party had begun. Their, predominantly female, fans were soon on their feet as the boys continued with You To Me Are Everything, Pretty Woman and Give Me Just A little More Time.
After almost 10 years, The Overtones know how to put on a show and the Christmas tour has became somewhat of an annual ritual for more many fans. The four-part harmonies of Darren Everest, Mike Crawshaw, Mark Franks and Jay James are polished, the dance routines are slick with a deceptively casual style and their doo-wop and soul repertoire distinctly feel good.
2019 has been a rebuilding year for the Overtones after the trauma of 2018. Their cover of Earth, Wind & Fire’s September was their first release with the new line-up and it was a nice moment as they formally introduced new boy Jay to the fans. “We decided we wanted to move forward as a four-piece,” said founder member Darren. “We’ve known Jay a long time and he has supported us in the past. We first met ten years ago, so we believe Jay has always been an Overtone.” Jay recalled that the boys brought a bottle of champagne on stage at his first show, some five months earlier, and that has now become a tradition, the Overtones’ Toast. Jay then took the lead for a tender rendition of Moon River.
The party continued with You Make Me Feel Brand New, Let’s Stay Together and Why Do Fools Fall In Love, a sparkling doo-wop performance highlighting bass-man Mark and Darren’s falsetto lead.
Returning to the Christmas theme, the boys also produced a stunning arrangement of Howard Blake’s festive classic Walking In The Air, which features on the new Christmas EP.
Thinking of what songs they should include in the show, Jay suggested the Temptations My Girl. This was a special song for the new boy, having had it played at his wedding when his new wife had danced with her father. It is now a special song for Jay and his own daughter.
The Overtones are also looking ahead to their tenth anniversary in 2020. “Can’t believe it’s been ten years,” said Mark. “No,” added Jay, “only seems like five months!”
The Christmas party continued with Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas and Sleigh Ride before coming to a close the Runaround Sue, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You and the ultimate party number Dancing On The Ceiling.
No one was going home without an encore and the boys returned, in sparkly gold jackets, for two numbers, the festive Santa Claus is Coming To Town and, what will be their new single, Celebration. What an apt note to end on. The Overtones have been to town, and so the Christmas season is now open!