Kerry Ellis and Brian May: Acoustic and Candlelit, The Apex, Bury St Edmunds, Monday November 5.

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A sell-out crowd greeted Kerry Ellis and Brian May with a rapturous reception for the first night of their acoustic tour. The pair responded with a playful show that mixed magical Queen classics with show tunes and some re-worked rock standards.

There were also some pleasant surprises in the set list. It was great to hear Brian singing ’39 – his solo number off Queen’s A Night At The Opera and Kerry delivered an exquisite I’m Not That Girl from Wicked.

Kerry had said earlier that she wanted to kick-off the tour in Bury having had such a wonderful time when she played The Apex with her own solo show in March. She was certainly on great form – her voice soaring in a dazzling, stripped down version of No-One But You (Only The Good Die Young), Brian’s tribute to Freddie Mercury.

This tour was all about raising awareness for the work of the Born Free Foundation. Kerry and Brian have released a new version of the John Barry-penned theme tune to raise funds for the charity and performed the song accompanied with a video chronicling Kerry and Brian’s trip to South Africa with Born Free founder Virginia McKenna.

The pair also performed a beautifully reflective song, written by McKenna, called Nothing Really Has Changed.

Among the new numbers performed were I, Who Have Nothing, which the pair originally performed at the San Remo Music Festival in February, and a stripped down version of the Rainbow stomper Since You’ve Been Gone. This followed seamlessly on from a simple and elegant version Barbra Streisand’s The Way We Were – testimony to the eclectic nature of the show.

Other surprises included a rare outing for Freddie Mercury’s Hot Space album track Life Is Real and a hillybilly version of Tie Your Mother Down.

The whole show was relaxed and playful with Brian and Kerry trading introductions and Brian having to overcome some amplification issues with good humour.

The evening ended with Brian’s homemade Red Special guitar making a welcome appearance for some audience participation with We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions.

A wonderful evening and a wonderful showcase for The Apex. The sound quality was first class.

Andrew Clarke

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