SSE Hydro, Glasgow Touring until Jun 7
‘I’m shameless,’ says Hugh Jackman, and who are we to argue. The opening night of his world tour is yet young, and already his manly Antipodean chest is busting out from his shirt.
Later he will slow dance with a besotted audience member and make gooey dedications to his wife and children. For all the things the affable Australian is good at, the one thing he truly excels at is being Hugh Jackman.
Presumably either modesty or a Hollywood lawyer prevented him subtitling this tour The Greatest Showman. He has starred in dozens of hit films and award-winning stage musicals, but it’s the phenomenal success of the 2017 film based on the life of P T Barnum that has enabled Jackman to play six nights at the O2 next month.
To date, the soundtrack album of auto-tuned belters has sold seven million copies.
Hugh Jackman makes sporadic visits to the Big Top tonight, as he must, but The Greatest Showman turns out to be something of a Trojan horse
Jackman makes sporadic visits to the Big Top tonight, as he must, but The Greatest Showman turns out to be something of a Trojan horse. Assisted by 20 musicians, ten dancers and a local community choir, this big-budget blowout is a whirlwind ride through the history of post-war light entertainment.
A soliloquy from Carousel. A mini Les Mis set-piece. A glitzy homage to the golden age of screen. Tap dancing. Mack The Knife. A rhythmic mash-up of rock songs. It’s all here, executed impeccably, though a section where Jackman camps it up as late Australian songwriter Peter Allen settles too readily for the broad comedy of arched eyebrows and persistent bum-wiggling.
The mood never settles but Jackman provides a charismatic fixed point. He acknow-ledges his sex-symbol status with humour, balances the schmaltz with blokey directness and projects carefully choreographed intimacy, linking songs to key moments in his life.
A mini Les Mis set-piece. A glitzy homage to the golden age of screen. Tap dancing. Mack The Knife. A rhythmic mash-up of rock songs. It’s all here, executed impeccably
All The Way was the first dance at his wedding; Gaston triggers a self-deprecating memory of auditioning for Beauty And The Beast. Though his voice has a slightly grating nasal quality, he’s a solid singer and hoofs with grace and gusto.
Some of the most memorable moments occur when the star cedes the spotlight. Keala Settle (Lettie Lutz in The Greatest Showman) brings down the house with a barnstorming rendition of This Is Me.
Later, after Jackman recounts a life-altering trip to the Outback, two didgeridoo players and two indigenous singers perform a powerful Aboriginal song.
A less generous artist might fear being upstaged, but Jackman hardly seems the insecure type – and with good reason. He may not be the greatest showman, but he proves a consummate entertainer with charm to burn.
THIS WEEK’S CD RELEASES
By Adam Woods
Lewis Capaldi Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent Out Fri
The 22-year-old Scot’s debut album won’t alienate anyone who responded to his No 1 single Someone You Loved’s muscular emoting, with a dozen gospel-styled songs about losing love and rising above. Not rocket science, but well executed, with Capaldi’s convincing passion to the fore
The National I Am Easy To Find Out Fri
After seven albums of weighty angst, The National welcome a new ingredient: women, in the voices of Gail Ann Dorsey, Lisa Hannigan, Sharon Van Etten and more. Matt Berninger still rumbles and the band simmer and swell, but there is a new lightness here, brightening the place up
Ronnie Lane Just For A Moment (Music 1973-1997) Out Fri
When The Faces reached the end of the road, Ronnie Lane, the bassist, was long gone, out in the country dreaming up a gypsy fusion of folk, Fats Domino and knees-up rock ’n’ roll. Most of it is on this six-disc box that collects his four solo albums, versions of Ronnie-penned Faces tunes and many live and unreleased songs
Little Steven And The Disciples Of Soul Summer Of Sorcery Out now
Springsteen’s right-hand man Steven Van Zandt’s new solo album opens with a synth playing a She’s The One-style fanfare before swerving into heavy Stax soul. But for all his versatility, Van Zandt shares Springsteen’s musical DNA and vocal timbre