Rachel Tucker first made a name for herself when she competed as one of the finalists in the BBC TV talent show I’d Do Anything in 2008. However, she is perhaps now better known for painting herself green to play Elphaba in Wicked on the West End and Broadway (for a total of 4 and a half years), alongside some other great theatre roles.
Though last night, she took centre stage at The Apex in Bury St Edmunds as she’s “On The Road” for the first time.
This was a night of firsts, as its the first time I’d experienced an event of such nature, as my typical live music event of choice is a lively pop concert, but this was styled more like a cabaret. It was also my first visit to The Apex, and I have to say it’s a beautiful venue that suited the event perfectly and I look forward to returning there.
The band (compiled of just 3 members on drums, piano and guitar) took their positions and the music began, eyes were fixed on the stage – only to be slightly surprised by hearing Tucker’s dulcet Irish tones bellow “Hello!” from the back of the venue. She cheekily interacts with select audience members, and shuffles along the second row before assuming position on stage and belting out her opening number “Miss Otis Regrets” into “Candy Man”.
Between each song, she shares little anecdotes of key moments throughout her life, from childhood to present day, and tells us why she’s chosen to sing that particular song. Therefore, she perfectly merges modern musicals and hits, with well-known classics; and switches from power ballads to lively tunes that you can’t help tapping along to. It’s clear that each number has been carefully cherry-picked, and has a clear connection to her.
Highlight numbers included her take on hits from popular Broadway hits like Dear Evan Hansen, The Last Five Years, Waitress and some classic show tunes like Where Is Love? (Oliver!), When She Loved Me (Toy Story 2) and a perfectly blended Roxie/All That Jazz (Chicago). Her impression of Tina Turner was also something that won’t be forgotten anytime soon!
Alongside her tour she’s promoting her limited release album (“On The Road”) – which is only available via physical CD which can be purchased online or at one of her shows; but once it’s sold out, that’s it! Which I think is a nice idea, and a large proportion of the tracks on the album are ones she’s singing on tour, plus she even has a few original tracks such as I’m Falling which she performed beautifully as a further teaser for the album.
At each date, she has a different ‘special guest’ and we were lucky enough to have Louise Dearman – a fellow theatre star, who Tucker appeared alongside in Wicked for two years. Their duets included a mash-up of What I Did For Love/The Way We Were, and naturally For Good. We also got to hear Dearman do a solo of Life of the Party (Lippa’s The Wild Party) which was a treat. Their voices are very different, but complimented each other wonderfully.
Tucker also engages with her audience with ease, talking clearly, dashing round the crowd on occasion and making you feel involved. It’s clear to see why she has such a loyal and diverse following.
Just when you think the show’s over, after she nails her show-stopping version of Defying Gravity – she reappears to sing Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, though not wanting to end on a ballad she closes with Castle on the Hill and receives a well-deserved standing ovation (one of which she seems highly appreciative of).
Overall, Rachel Tucker and her band have a charm you can’t resist; the show is classy, funny, emotive and perfectly executed through-out. While ultimately you may need to be a bit of a theatre fan to fully appreciate the show, but regardless it gives the perfect chilled evening with some great music sang beautifully by Tucker and her guest(s). I highly recommend that if you can make your way to any of the upcoming dates – do. If not, keep your eyes peeled for future gigs as she’s worth the pennies for sure. Put simply, it was wicked!
For more information, to look at remaining dates on the tour, or to pick up her album visit racheltucker.co.uk.