Billy Ocean at The Palais Theatre, Melbourne, Wednesday July 19, 2019.
As we take our seats to experience the Melbourne stop on the Billy Ocean – All The Hits Tour, we compare favourite songs safe in the knowledge that they will all get an airing tonight. While sharing a story about how my mum mistakenly thought When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going‘s lyrics were, “Go and get stuffed,” another in attendance concurs her mum thought the very same thing!
From the moment this Trinidadian-English legend hits the stage, his voice is absolutely flawless. Ocean’s snappy white suite matches his hair, which is business at the front, Rasta party at the back, thanks to a dreadlocked high ponytail. “Are you gonna sing with me? Are you gonna dance with me? Are you gonna misbehave with me?” Ocean encourages before Nights (Feel Like Getting Down). His unselfconscious twinkle-toes dancing coaxes us all to dust off and bust out vintage dance moves during the soulful Love Really Hurts Without You. Tonight we score an extended version, audience members exchanging smiles, singing along and just generally celebrating life.
After Ocean observes our country tends to produce “beautiful women”, a punter hollers out a request: “Loverboy!” That will come later. Instead we score Suddenly in all of its incandescent splendour. The audience chorus sing-a-long is loud, but thankfully we can still hear Ocean’s glorious, syrupy timbre. During one chorus, Ocean prompts us before each line just in case we’ve forgotten some lyrics. “There’s beauty up above, and things we never take notice of…” That key change immediately followed by an extended “Ooooooooooooooooof!” – just wow! Loverboy goes full ’80s sleaze and then Ocean supplies the perfect segue: “Never mind about Loverboy, will you get in my car?” Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car (“Get in the back seat, baby!”) follows, complete with electrifying sax solo and cheesy car-honking sound effects. Ocean’s backwards skipping movement across the stage shows there’s still plenty of gas in his tank.
The musicianship on display is next-level (Ocean’s daughter Cherie Charles is one of the supreme singers in his backing vocal trio), but it’s Ocean’s voice and beaming stage presence that steals the show, including during his delivery of Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Gonna Come from Here You Are: The Best Of Billy Ocean (which we’re definitely gonna purchase pronto, post-show). Whenever Ocean sings, we’re immediately silenced and slack-jawed.
An encore is a given since we’re yet to hear the man’s Grammy Award-winning, chart-topping smash hit, Caribbean Queen (No More Love On The Run). “You want more?” he teases when he returns to the stage. We sing a lot of this song without Ocean’s help as he looks on proudly with that million-watt smile, holding the mic out towards his “choir” (us) and soaking it all in. And Ocean even signs some stuff held out by front-row punters at show’s conclusion. What a truly gracious artist! We’re so thankful that Ocean returned to music and performing after taking a 17-year hiatus at the height of his career, to prioritise spending time with family following the loss of his mother in 1989. Billy Ocean – All The Hits Tour is not to be missed.
There are three dates left on Billy Ocean’s Australian tour; see below for dates, and get tickets here.
FRI 21ST JUN – ENMORE THEATRE SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
SAT 22ND JUN – WIN ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE WOLLONGONG, AUSTRALIA
MON 24TH JUN – THE STAR GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA