The Glenn Miller Orchestra
Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, Fri 19 Jun
The Festival Theatre’s lavish red curtain goes up and, as the strains of Moonlight Serenade fill the air, the audience is spirited away to 1940. The 17-piece Glenn Miller Orchestra faithfully recreates the sound of the Big Band Era, looking the part in matching black tuxedos. The ensemble features a rhythm section of drums, double bass and piano and boasts 14 horns, comprising trumpet, saxophone, trombone and the occasional clarinet. Two vocalists, Wendy Smith and Mark Kopitzki, impressively complete the musical line-up. Sydney’s Broadway Swing Dancers are also a significant and memorable part of the afternoon’s entertainment, providing colourful and vibrant movement at various times.
Band leader and trombonist Rick Gerber, bucking the on-stage trend by sporting a white jacket, is relaxed and in good spirits as he introduces the songs. All the numbers that are commonly associated with Miller are present, including spot-on arrangements of Chattanooga Choo-Choo, In The Mood, Tuxedo Junction, String Of Pearls, Little Brown Jug, Pennsylvania 6-5000 and American Patrol. The band is seriously good, both collectively and individually. Occasionally, some of the soloing transcends the Big Band sound and ventures into territory that would have be-bop beatniks snapping their fingers in appreciation.
The second-half of the show features sublime versions of Perfidia and My Buddy, as well as a short tribute to some well-known songs from the First and Second World Wars. Smith’s vocals shine in I Get A Kick Out Of You and ‘S Wonderful, while Kopitzki does a great job with Nelson Riddle’s arrangement of All Or Nothing At All, made famous by Frank Sinatra.
Gerber introduces the members of the orchestra before bidding the crowd farewell with a fabulous full rendition of Miller’s signature tune, the timeless Moonlight Serenade. A jazzed-up arrangement of Waltzing Matilda is served as an encore, providing some light-hearted but probably unnecessary novelty.
The Glenn Miller Orchestra has delivered a fabulous concert to an appreciative audience, and has demonstrated that good music is good music forever.