If last week had a theme, it would be Craig Revel Horwood. With realising it, I ended up watching two shows back to back that were directed by the waspish queen of choreography himself. The first was Sister Act (you can read my review of that show here) and the second was the Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour!
Strictly Come Dancing is a firm favourite of our whole family. Last season was particularly good as the girls were allowed to stay up and watch with us. We all enjoyed watching the fabulous routines and each had our favourite couple. Mr Mess and I were saying we really would like to go and watch it live. When we realised this would be Len Goodman’s final tour, we knew there was no time like the present. I got straight online and booked our tickets.
We arrived at the Motorpoint Arena in plenty of time (probably too much time) and headed to the turnstile to hand over our tickets. I had printed our tickets at home, but unfortunately for some reason the scanner didn’t recognise them. I was a little worried as these tickets had been pretty expensive and we were all really looking forward to the show. I thought I was going to have a VERY disappointed 6 year old on my hands. (Not to mention Mr Mess.) Luckily, the staff at the arena were really helpful and printed off replacement tickets so this was nothing more than a minor hiccup!
Before taking our seats we picked up the essentials – a tour programme (£12 – a little steep but very nice quality and a collector’s item), a number 10 paddle for Miss Mess to wave at regular intervals and of course, chocolates for munching.
Our host for the evening was Anita Rani, Countryfile presenter and former Strictly contestant. She was brilliant! I loved her vibrant personality and sparkling delivery. Her experience as a contestant meant that she could empathise and relate to the celebrities and have interesting conversations with them. She managed the show seamlessly and I would love to see her presenting more on Strictly in the future.
Our judges for the evening were Craig Revel Horwood, Karen Hardy and, of course, Len Goodman. Craig was wickedly funny, giving all of his trademark insults with that signature flair. Karen was delightful. She gave good constructive critiques while still having heaps of personality. She’d better be on the list for Len’s replacement on the TV judging panel (if Anton doesn’t want the job).
Len was…just Len. He was perfect and I had a bit of a fangirl moment that I was in the same room as him! He had great rapport with the performers and with the audience. There were all the usual Len-One-Liners and innuendos. I’m really going to miss him in future seasons.
Finally, it was time for the competition to begin.
The first couple was Danny Mac and his partner, Oti Mabuse. Danny and Oti performed their Charleston and THAT Samba. They were just as amazing live as they had been on TV. The Samba was particularly electrifiying – Danny really is a very beautiful man. I was frankly surprised that I didn’t get pregnant just from sitting in the audience during all of that potent sexuality! Phew! Hand me my smelling salts!
Also appearing was Louise Redknapp with her partner Kevin Clifton. They performed their Paso Doble and Quickstep. The Paso was dramatic and powerful, a real showstopper. Their Quickstep, to the soundtrack from Calamity Jane, was energetic and overflowing with character. They were such an adorably loveable couple and Kevin in particular excelled at playing up to the audience.
Next up was Lesley Joseph and her new partner for the tour, Gorka Marquez. I’ve been fortunate enough to see Lesley in two other professional productions in Nottingham and she is just the consummate professional. She exudes charm and charisma and is such an inspiration to everyone to get out and enjoy dancing. Lesley and Gorka performed their bubbly Charleston and Quickstep.
One thing that was clear as we were watching the live show, is that all of the celebrities had improved since the TV series ended. This was especially noticeable in Daisy Lowe, who danced with her partner Aljaž Skorjanec. Daisy had clearly found a whole new level of confidence as she strutted and sashayed her way through her Salsa. Later on, she demonstrated her versatility with a waltz so elegant and beautiful that it could have stepped straight out of a fairytale.
Perhaps our most highly anticipated couple was Ed Balls and his partner Katya Jones. Seeing as Ed grew up in Nottingham, it did feel rather special to be cheering him on in his home town. Ed and Katya danced their American Smooth, the one with the now infamous lift that almost went wrong. There was no sign of difficulty this time around as he seemed to lift her effortlessly above his head.
I don’t think there was ever an option of Ed not performing Gangnam Style on the tour. It completely stole the show. Ed lit up the stage with his performance and the routine was fabulous in its absurdity! After the dance, Ed issued Craig a challenge to prove he wasn’t all mouth and perform his own version of Gangnam Style. Craig stepped up with great aplomb in what was definitely one of the highlights of the evening.
Last but certainly not east was the reigning champion, Ore Oduba with his substitute partner, Karen Clifton. (Joanna Clifton, Ore’s partner from the TV series is currently on tour in Thoroughly Modern Millie.) Ore and Karen performed their jaw-dropping jive and what will always, in my humble opinion, be known as THE BEST show dance ever performed on Strictly. Watching them hop around on that giant drum kit with all the style and sophistication of a Hollywood movie was just mesmerising.
In amongst the couples’ performances were a series of spectacular group routines. These featured other professional dancers from the series as well as an aerial performer who performed death-defying stunts that left my heart in my mouth. The routines were sublime, with fabulous choreography and stunning costumes.
It would be an absolute crime if I wrote this review and didn’t mention the amazing Strictly Live Band. I have been to see a whole host of musicians perform in this arena and I don’t think I have ever been treated to such a tremendous display of talent as I was by this group of individuals. The sheer amount and range of music that they had to learn was breath-taking. It was also really lovely to see them come out and perform front and centre a bit more, rather than staying behind their music stands. I’d certainly pay good money to go and watch a concert with the band all by themselves.
Once all couples had performed we were given the chance to vote, by text, for our favourites. We each had a vote – Miss Mess voted for Daisy (her all-time favourite) and Mr Mess and I voted for Ed. Gotta love an underdog!
Ultimately, it was Louise and Karen who run this particular evening. I do think this was due largely to Kevin milking the audience for the sympathy vote (I know for certain they also won in Sheffield), but I suppose it didn’t really matter who won . All of the couples were brilliant and the most important thing was that we had a great evening of family entertainment.
Before we left, Miss Mess insisted that we had to buy Len’s goodbye compiliation DVD. At least I can tell myself I’ve contributed to his retirement fund!
Overall, I’d have to say the evening was FAB-U-LOUS, darling. Although the tickets were a little steep at £50 each, I can’t remember the last time we’ve had such a good evening altogether. It was just like the TV show, except better because we actually felt like we were part of the show. We were all full of smiles on the way home and I would certainly look to go again in the future. Sadly, this tour has now ended but if you are a big Strictly fan I would certainly recommend you book for next year’s tour! I’m sure I will!
Have you been to see the Strictly Live Tour? WHO WON? Did Kevin play the sympathy card at your show, or were you lucky enough to see Ed raise the trophy? Leave me a comment below!