Pop bands come and pop bands go – but only a select few have that special quality which renders them almost timeless.
It’s incredible to think that Wham! split 33 years ago on the back of a short five-year career, but their music still fills dance floors and lights up the airwaves. It still delights the fans who grew up with the dynamic duo from their very earliest days.
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley mastered the art of the perfect pop song better than any from that decade.
They also had the looks to match the catchy choruses and neat dance moves – and, unlike most other pop bands, they had personality.
In 2019, Christmas still isn’t officially started until conmercial radio DJs play ‘Last Christmas’ at least half a dozen times every day, while songs such as Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, Young Guns and the definitive ballad, Careless Whisper, still sound as fresh as ever.
So, no surprise then that their music has spawned many tribute acts and The Best of Wham! which comes to Rothes Halls in Glenrothes on December 7, is the perfect jukebox show.
It features Ben Evans as George Michael, and Jamie Corner as his sidekick Ridegley.
Ben brings West End theatre experienced to the role.
He has appeared in Les Mis and Mamma Mia – as well as TV roles in Casualty, Teachers and Waking The Dead.
Jamie toured as part of the stage show The Band: the Musical which was a spin-off from the BBC talent competition, Let It Shine.
The Best of Wham! does what it says on the poster.
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Ben explained: “We wanted to show George in his prime years and celebrate his beginnings with Wham – four friends who shook up the music industry and broke millions of hearts all over the world.
“It’s been just over 30 years since Wham performed their final concert together at Wembley and it’s been way too long to be away from their amazing fans so we hope to bring that feeling back to everyone.”
He admits he was a big fan – make that massive – of the band and Michael’s solo work, and knew every word to every song before going up for audition.
Rehearsal for the show started last summer for the current tour which brings them to Fife in December.
“My mother would tell you that I’ve been preparing for this role all my life,” he said.
“During rehearsals my biggest aim was to get the instantly recognisable physicality and moves of George, obviously Wham! had their trademark dance routines – I thought I’d hung up my dancing shoes a long time ago!”
He admits it’s a part he always wanted to play – “I’ve been dreaming of playing since I was a little boy. It is an honour to sing his songs every night” – and aims to do justice to the memory of Michael, who died aged just 53 in 2016.
“At certain points during the show I can feel that he’s there with me. Hopefully I’m doing him proud,” said Ben.
“ The audience reactions are also something that I’ll never get over and getting to meet everyone after the show is something really special.”
Some 33 years have passed since Michael and Ridgeley played their farewell concert in front of 72,000 fans at Wembley Stadium, and this tribute show is very muich about celebrating those memorable days.
Ben billed it as “an evening of nostalgia” for fans, adding: “ where they’ll be transported back to the glory days of the 1980s.
“Expect to be singing, dancing and clapping your hands from the very first song to the last. It’s such an incredible, feel good show you won’t be disappointed!”
Ben saw Michael perform live on his Freedom ‘25 tour, and hopes his shows “try to capture the incredible live vocals as well as the fun and high energy performances of George and Andrew.”
He continued: “We perform all the biggest and best hits of Wham, a few George solo songs whilst paying tribute to the man himself.
“I always listen to either a Wham! or George Michael playlist before I go on stage .
“And obviously getting my beard length right is an absolute must! “
And his favourite track to sing?
“I know it sounds corny but they’re all such amazing songs and the reaction from the crowd for each and every one of them is incredible and never fails to blow me away.
“But if I had to choose, I would have to say ‘Edge Of Heaven’ – it’s such a crowd pleaser with a great bit of audience participation.”
Playing the part of the Wham! star has also given Ben many experiences of a lifetime.
“Performing to 10,000 people at Rewind festival has to be one of the best experiences of my life,” he said.
“Also, topping the bill with Jason Donovan and Chesney Hawkes on the Throwback to The 80s, Floating Festivals Cruise was a once in a lifetime moment as I’d grown up listening to these guys.” The Best Of Wham!, Saturday, December 7, Rothes Halls, Glenrothes. Ticket details HERE www.onfife.com