What a talented town this is! Visiting bands and acts may travel from afar, perform and move on again, but they will not better the talent on our doorstep.
The Royal Hippodrome last week rang to the wonderful sound of Eastbourne’s own wonderfully professional Duality.
Paula and Barney Pout are a husband-and-wife duo who have been singing together for twenty years, and entertaining local audiences for more than a decade.
Paula is a proper local lass but Barney, from faraway Kent, became a naturalised Eastbournian after the couple met while working on cruise ships. He knows his Redoubt from his Wish Tower, so we will happily let him in.
As Duality, they perform regularly at sell-out engagements at, among others, the Hydro and Langham Hotels. Both also have a stage presence - Barney actually has a lead role next month in Follies, with Lewes Operatic Society. And Eastbourne being the Village Eastbourne that it is, everyone in performing arts knows everyone else, so that this Hippodrome show became a gathering of enthusiastic friends.
The grand old lady, Hippodrome, is looking spruced up and splendid lately, revived with loving care and some inventive scheduling under Debbie and Alex Adams’ vigorous management.
One Night Only, they billed the show, but Paula and Barney might not get away with that. The 300-plus audience applauded, cheered, swayed and sang along, and Duality certainly left them wanting more. This one could easily become a regular date on the RHT calendar.
The repertoire is rich with recognisable, much loved standards, with the Duality hallmark of impeccable blend and harmony. Nothing jarring, nothing too edgy, not too many jazz chords. But the range of artists represented is phenomenal. From Streisand to Eric Clapton to Ray Charles, via the Monkees and Jerry Lee Lewis...
Paula’s pure, pin-point voice delivers Carole King one moment, and then fetches up terrific power for a fabulous rendering of I Will Survive. Barney’s lyrical baritone conjures a breezy Neil Diamond as easily as an utterly authentic Billy Joel.
Paula is joined for a little Supremes set by backing singers Mia Longman and Meggie Dennis – superb young singers in their own right, who might just deserve their own spot next time?
A five-piece band includes top arrangers Carl Greenwood and Peter Nickalls, explosive drummer Ed Chisholm and Ellen Campbell on keyboards. Oh, and ace guitarist Andy Williams with some riveting riffs, notably in the Donna Summer Hot Stuff number.
And to top it all – not a finale, as that might have stretched bedtimes – Mum and Dad Paula and Barney are joined on stage for a family number. Nine-year-old Caleb starred earlier in the summer in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, while little sis Zara made her debut here with a delightful confident voice – even including a six-year-old mini-belt!
One Night Only? Don’t believe it: Duality will surely be back soon...By Kevin Anderson.
read more: Three great days of jazz in Hastings