Brighton Magazine

The Brighton Magazine

Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Friday 17 November 2023

Review: Holly Johnson @ Brighton Dome Concert Hall

Nineteen-eighty-four belonged to one band, and one band only, writes Stuart Avis - Frankie Goes To Hollywood. They outsold Wham!, Duran Duran, Culture Club and even Queen. They have not one, but two records sitting in the top ten best selling singles of all time in the UK.
Credit Andy Sturmey

Frankie's flame burnt bright and fast, but has made a lasting impression on the musical landscape. 

The five scouse scallies that embedded themselves in everything from Look In to NME, from Razzmatazz to the nine o'clock news, scored a short string of hits, all of which are revisited tonight as vocalist Holly Johnson played his debut solo Brighton show at The Dome. Sadly Holly was without those fellow scallies who shared his journey in the mid-80s. 

Their reunion for the Eurovision opening party earlier this year in Liverpool was a springboard for the false hope of thousands of fans worldwide. But Johnson comes armed with a backing band that plays it faithful and true.

Marking the 40th anniversary of the juggernaut that was Frankie's first single, Relax, and the 35th anniversary of his debut solo album, Blast, Johnson is in fine vocal form and humour, making all these achievements feel like mere moments ago.

Recreating those huge productions live on stage - spearheaded by Trevor Horn and his team - was a near impossibility four decades ago, but technology has finally caught up with the Frankie sound. 

Now Johnson and his band make it look easy and with even more punch, if you can believe that"s even possible? One can only imagine how electrifying the show would be with a full compliment of Frankies.

An opening volley of Warriors of the Wasteland and Welcome to the Pleasuredome pave the way for some deep cuts from Johnson's solo career, peppered with all four hits from Blast and Frankie's Rage HardAmericanos and Love Train almost steal the show, but Johnson still has aces up his sleeve.

The final section of the show begins with the end of Frankie. Their last hurrah, Watching the Wildlife, feels bittersweet when Johnson places it in this context, but the aforementioned juggernaut is about to plow through the audience.

Forty years ago the single, Relax,  sounded massive. Forty years later it still sounds massive. Live? Well, it's off the scale, packing a punch that the heaviest of metal bands can only dream of. 

The song, launched in 1983, tore a new one in 1984, and for four glorious minutes the Brighton audience were back in that moment, complete with handheld lamp scanning the audience and faux robotic head turns.

The only way Johnson could follow that was by doing exactly what he and his fellow band members did in 1984, smack everyone round the head with Two Tribes to round off the set.

The Cold War anthem that almost hogged the top spot of the charts for the whole summer of that year unfortunately remains as relevant now as it did then. 

Gorbachev and Reagan are replaced with images of Ukraine on screen, hitting home it's still very important message.

The Power of Love is the sole encore, bolstered by a crowd singalong at levels normally reserved for Queen's stadium fillers. It's emotional, it's beautiful, it's perfect.

Holly say no more.

by: Stuart Avis


Art on the Streets, a documentary co-created by University of Brighton design historian Dr. Harriet Atkinson will be shown as part of Tate Britain's upcoming exhibition, Artists International – The First Decade. 
Credit: Brighton Book Festival

The Brighton Book Festival, which runs for five-days in June, will be held at Brighton University for the second year running.

A multi-million-pound project to restore the colonnade and balcony of the Grade II listed Theatre Royal Brighton reaches completion this week. 
Credit Jo Charlesworth

With over fifty speakers, Charleston's annual summer highlight Festival of the Garden brings together garden designers, horticulturalists, artists, activists, ecologists, writers and musicians to disentangle our complex relationship with the land. 
Credit: Clive Flint

Create Music, in partnership with West Sussex Music, have been appointed by Arts Council England to deliver music education across Sussex as part of the newly formed Sussex Music Hub.

Comedian Paul Whitehouse is to reprise his West End starring role at Brighton Dome, in December, as the lovable Grandad in the hit show Only Fools and Horses The Musical.

A new musical version of Dodie Smith's classic book 101 Dalmatians will visit Theatre Royal Brighton for Christmas 2024, from Tuesday 17th December 2024 to Sunday 5th January 2025, as part of a major new UK Tour.
Credit Claire Leach

Circus performers arrived in Brighton to promote Brighton Festival's Carnesky's Showwomxn Sideshow Spectacular, an upcoming outdoor event which celebrates the forgotten women of circus and the city's history of seaside variety.

LGBTQ+ historian Alf Le Flohic unearths forgotten stories of a gay B&B, a zoo bar, and a legendary farm disco in a talk for Chichester Pride. 
Credit Conrad Shawcross

New images of a solo exhibition by British artist and sculptor Conrad Shawcross at Glyndebourne Festival 2024 have been released. The exhibition opened on the first day of the annual summer opera festival, which marks its 90th anniversary in 2024. 
Credit: Tony Briggs

Cop-turned-comedian Alfie Moore, star of his hit BBC Radio 4 comedy series, It's a Fair Cop, brings his stand-up tour show A Face for Radio to Hove's The Old Market, this June.
Credit Jim Carey Photography

Horsham Children's Parade is set to return on Sunday 7th July 2024. Hundreds of children from across the Sussex district will showcase their creations and costumes made in workshops with professional community artists.

Credit: Hamish Hamilton Children's Books

A new exhibition featuring never-seen-before items and artworks from one of the UK's most beloved author illustrators – Raymond Briggs - is now running in the part of East Sussex that he made his home.

Organising a conference or event in Brighton?
See our Brighton Conference section.
Brighton web design by ...ntd