A full and enthusiastic house greeted the Men About Town AKA Los Hombres de la Ciudad from the word go, when they presented their show ‘More than a Touch of Latin’.
Alan Western, Peter Vance and Duncan Read spent months polishing their Italian, Spanish and Portuguese accents to sing a host of all-time Latin favourites, with a well-rewarded result. Two Latin music specialists, Andrew Veivers – guitar and Stephen Caruana – drums and percussion joined Paula Girvan – piano, Amby Dowdeswell on his special acoustic (bajo?) bass guitar and Shaun Ballagh – reeds, to lend some very authentic Latin feel to the music. Their instrumental versions of Manha de Carnaval and Wave were very well received.
Beginning a musical journey from Italy to Spain and then on to South America with Alan’s composition Viva La Latin Musica, the fun of songs like Volare and That’s Amore had the crowd singing along in the first 10 minutes of the show. Moving from a swing version of Quando, Quando, Alan softened the atmosphere with the romantic Anema e Core . Another famous Napolitan number O Sole Mio came as a duet from Peter (Pedro!) and Duncan in its Elvis version of It’s Now or Never. Duncan’s tenor voice thrilled everyone in the tango-flavoured Night of a 1000 Stars from Evita, moving to Argentina and a host of Spanish language songs. Peter impressed with his next two songs Amigos Para Siempre and his own number Rack of Life .
After Alan’s Spanish/English rendition of Besame Mucho the guys all got together for a sensitive version of Guantanamera. The set wound up with a couple of high energy numbers from Duncan – La Bamba and the Ricky Martin hit Livin’ La Vida Loca had every danceable space full of movers and groovers!
The tempo stayed up in the second set, when Alan joined the band on bongos, with Stephen on congas, in a lively version of El Cumbanchero,. Duncan joined him in a very smooth Maria Elena and then went on to perform some of his funniest best with Sway. Peter returned with Somos Novios (It’s Impossible) and Kurt Elling’s Nightmoves. The guys then all joined on Amor and a Sinatra swing version of Brazil before getting into the Portuguese language songs with the sound of Carnaval. As the mellow part of the night approached, a very memorable duet of Jobim’s Dindi was sung by Alan and Pete, followed by Alan’s first-time performance of the Ivan Lins classic Love Dance.
There was just time for the guys to get through a Brazilian medley of Girl From Ipanema, Little Boat and No More Blues before their final number, the famous Mas Que Nada with English lyrics written by Alan.
The Men About Town certainly put a lot of value into their shows – much appreciated by their growing band of followers – what will they do next?