Royal Crown Revue March 14, 2009
Royal Crown’s Hip Coronation at Cerritos
By Glen Creason
The Royal Crown Revue came to Cerritos on a Saturday night and showed some real flipped out flair in front a swelled house, anxious for some swell tunes. The revue is ample with eight members in the band, two vocalists and some redheaded and blonde eye candy worth ogling. There is a silver tongued and double-breasted suit, fedora wearing master of ceremonies and a hepcat lead singer who seems to be a cross between Mugs McGuiness and Frank Sinatra. Still the heart and soul of this potent musical mix is the horn section featuring the truly outstanding sax man Mondo Dorame who shows all his emotion out of the end of his horn.
It was a dazzling show at Cerritos, opening with a splashy “Man With the Golden Arm” that sparkled with the 1950’s cool that permeates the music of the revue. Two comely burlesque queens strutted their considerable stuff while the band wailed and you got the idea this might be fun. Everyone is dressed to the nines and the sound is big, bigger when Eddie Nichols hits the mike with ring a ding ding stuff like “Come Fly With Me,” “Luck Be a Lady,” and “This Town” which were given some authority by the strong horn section platform and the superb drumming of Bam Bam Danny Glass along with stand up bass work from Dave Miller and very solid lead guitar by Mark Cally. The show is sweetened considerably by the beautiful brunette songstress Jennifer Keith who jumped up the terrific “Forty Cups of Coffee,” put a honey coating on “They Say” and improved the overall attitude with “It’s a Good Day.” Yet, the very best number in the opening half was a seamless ensemble performance of “Memories Are Made of This” that would have made Dino proud.
A short intermission did not seem to cool the jets of the Review and an Eddie Nichols medley of romance songs including “Temptation,” Date at 8,” and “Jezebel” started the band on a runway to takeoff. Miss Keith did a sexy version of “An Occasional Man,” followed by a wunderbar “ Bei Mir Bist du Schon” and “Mack the knife” that was triple decker sandwiched around a nod to Louis Prima and Keely Smith. This included a really spirited “When You’re Smiling” with Eddie Nichols taking the unenviable Luigi parts. They sang it well but Jennifer just did not look bored enough to be a great Keely.
By far, the best moments of the second half took place when the band really opened up and got into the groove of their hits like “Watts Local,” “Zip Gun Bop,” the too long ignored “Hey Pachuco” and their rollicking farewell “Viva Las Vegas.” In these pieces, especially “Hey Pachuco” the band got to stretch it out and show their well-practiced chops. It is easy to get lost in all the serge suits, polished wingtips, red lipstick, four inch heels and brilliantine hairdos but the Royal Crown Revue actually really swings the great old music of several eras quite convincingly. They don’t just look hip, they play hip too.