Voice of the Heart Karen Carpenter – Stafford Gatehouse Theatre

Reviewed by Helen and Garry McWilliams

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We’re on the top of the world looking down on creation and the only explanation we can find – is the most wonderful evening we enjoyed at the theatre in the company of the marvellous cast of ‘Voice of the Heart Karen Carpenter’. Karen and Richard Carpenter possessed one of the most unique and recognisable sounds during their ‘era’ and continue to be exceedingly popular with many age groups, today. This was proved by the age range in the packed house at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre last night. Carole Gordon who sings as ‘Karen Carpenter’ doesn’t pretend to be a tribute artist by trying to look like her idol, yet her voice is uncanny, because we closed our eyes and we were in the presence of ‘Karen’ as far as we were concerned. Carole has one of the best voices that we have heard in a long time and to sound like such a talented and well-loved artist as well, is a talent to be treasured.

The band are simply amazing, there’s Musical Director Mat Newton who plays synths and piano, Andy Saphir who is fascinating to watch as he plays three different guitars throughout the course of the evening. John Blackburn is outstanding on drums, Carolyn Lawford is multi-talented playing flute, saxophone and clarinet beautifully and Rachel Dean on backing vocals helps to create beautiful and technically difficult harmonies. Completing the line-up is Bob Newman who is Carole’s husband and plays bass guitar as well as providing backing vocals. Indeed all members of the band assist with backing vocals and produce the right sound for a Carpenters themed show.

There were many old favourites on the set list, including: For All We Know, Close To You, A Kind of Hush and Superstar (an audience choice). Surprises were introduced throughout the evening, some of which were Beatles numbers recorded in the Carpenters’ inimitable style, ‘Ticket To Ride’ and ‘Help’ were our particular favourites. The medley that was selected towards the end of the second act show-cased each member of the band and gave an opportunity for Rachel Dean to demonstrate lead vocals with ‘End of the World’ – a memorable song for all the right reasons. Also a lively number that had the audience member bopping in their seats was ‘Fun Fun Fun’ which was sung superbly by Bob Newman.

A couple of songs from ‘Voice of the Heart’ album were included and they brought tears to our eyes as they followed a commentary from Carole relating to the year that this album was made. It was recorded in 1983 and therefore the last album that Karen Carpenter ever recorded. It was clear throughout the show that Carole idolises Karen and as she told us after the show, when she first heard Karen’s voice, she was pleased to share the same vocal range. However we believe that more than just the vocal range is similar and she truly has to be heard to be believed.

With an impressive following and a fantastic rapport with the audience, this show is highly recommended by us and by visiting http://www.voiceoftheheart.co.uk you will find tour dates and booking information.

For an interview with Rachel Dean have a read here: https://breakalegreviewblog.wordpress.com/2013/05/26/interview-with-rachel-dean/

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