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Bitesize: Tribute band beats the originals; Review # Jake and Elwood: The Blues Brothers Show # St David's Hall, Cardiff.

Byline: Mark Tattersall

THERE is an essential underlying truth about tribute bands: there is no real difference between those in the audience and those on the stage.

By definition, we are all fans of the original and therefore everybody goes into it expecting to enjoy themselves.

There are differences in this case, though. For one thing, the tribute being paid isn't even to a ``real'' band, it is to John Landis's cult 1980 film starring John Belushi and Dan Ayk r oyd For another, the men ``playing'' Jake and Elwood were once called William Smith-Eccles and Mark John Moore, sons of Derbyshire and Liverpool respectively. But now they are Joliet Jake Blues and Elwood Blues.

Names changed by deed poll, they have even managed to convince the passport authorities and our own dear DVLA that they should be photographed with shades.

None of this, though, guarantees a faithful tribute to the original. It's what they do on stage. And these boys deliver.

Jake's voice is a perfect vehicle for blues and soul. It may be close to heresy, but if there is one weakness in the movie it is that Belushi's voice isn't quite up to it and here, bizarrely, the tribute may be better than the original.

Across the stage, the former Mr Moore has become Elwood in more than name only. His bearing, mannerisms and dancing - that lunatic mixture of St Vitus and Suggs - are uncannily like Aykroyd's.

And don't take my word for it. Movie originals Alan Rubin (bandleader Mr Fabulous) and Stax legend Steve ``The Colonel'' Cropper pay tribute in the programme. Originals paying tribute to the tribute!

All of their efforts, though, would be for naught without the guys behind them. The heart of any blues band is in the rhythm section and this pair have the best possible foundation in the superb 10-piece Black Rhino Band.

They were beat-perfect throughout all the familiar numbers. And they were far too professional to let it slip amid the chaos of half the audience taking the stage for the closing numbers - not least an uproarious Jailhouse Rock.

But then they would be, wouldn't they. They are fans too.

# Jake & Elwood: The BluesBrothers Show returns to Wales on Tuesday at the Grand Theatre, Swansea, at 7.30pm
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 19, 2003
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