Janis Joplin: Full Tilt

Queen’s Hall

Keith Bruce

Five stars

Last week Rob Adams reviewed a Spotlites venue show by an Australian Janis Joplin tribute act, entitled Full Tilt Janis, which had just a week’s run on the Fringe. They should have hung around to watch Angie Darcy’s performance as the doomed blueswoman and early member of the 27 club and learned something.

This show began life at Glasgow’s Oran Mor as part of A Play, A Pie, and A Pint, scripted by Peter Arnott, writer of The Breathing House and Cyprus, and directed by Cora Bissett (Roadkill, Glasgow Girls, Rites) and it is every bit as well constructed and shaped as those names would lead you to expect. But the show is owned by Angie Darcy in the title role, in what has proved a defining role for the Hamilton actor.

Arnott’s version of the story is as much celebratory as tragic, and is very careful not to glorify her early death in any way. What it does do is give ample space to the music by giving Darcy a highly accomplished quintet backing her onstage: Harry Ward (Musical Director /Electric Guitar), Andy Barbour (Keyboards), Jon Mackenzie (Bass) and James Grant (Drums), playing the role of The Full Tilt Boogie Band with aplomb.

Kozmic Blues, Me and Bobby McGee and Mercedes Benz are all given fine and complete readings in a show that combines the music and the narrative as well as it can be done, and Darcy’s singing goes beyond mere imitation with her own powerful, committed and superbly musical interpretations of the Joplin catalogue. On the night I saw it the large number of diehard fans in the audience were absolutely transported.

Delightfully, that is also what is happening with this show, which follows its own brief Fringe revival with further Scottish dates at Perth Concert Hall (September 4 and 5), Aberdeen Lemon Tree (September 10 and 11), back at Glasgow’s Oran Mor in the evening (September 14 to 17, and 20) and Inverness Eden Court (September 22 to 24).

But this is a show that is produced by a partnership of Regular Music and the National Theatre of Scotland, and it should be travelling much more widely than that for as long as Darcy is prepared to do it. If those guys can’t book it on a coast-to-coast US tour, they ain’t really trying, man.

Runs until August 30