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Alan Fletcher, The Bedford, London live review

Alan Fletcher is best known to most UK audiences for his long-running performance on Aussie soap ‘Neighbours’ as Dr Karl Kennedy (he’s been on the show since 1994 and will return for the series revival later this year). But he’s also long been cultivating a musical career, regularly performing with his band Waiting Room in Australia and the UK before branching out as a solo artist. He released his debut solo album ‘The Point’ last month and has now embarked on a UK tour, including a stop last night at The Bedford in south west London.

Arriving on stage shortly after 9PM and backed by opening act Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes, as well as his wife Jennifer on keyboards, Alan opened his set with ‘All That I Can Do’, a bittersweet, folky ballad about a rover who’s reluctant to let love go this time. Although his voice on record has a surprisingly gravelly edge, his live performance had much more depth and richness and I loved his harmonies with Lachlan Bryan (who co-produced ‘The Point’) as well. He followed that with the delicate, heartfelt ‘Hey You’, which he dedicated to his mum and a late fan, Pamela Green, that provided one of the most touching moments of the show and was full of warmth and affection.

Throughout the show one thing that particularly stood out to me was Alan’s skill at engaging with the audience, many of whom had clearly been to his shows multiple times (I spotted quite a few Neighbours Celebration Tour and Kennedys T shirts in the crowd!). He filled the set with stories about everything from how the songs came about – such as the stripped-back ‘The Point’, which evolved from a piece about religion to becoming a wry yet sweet love song, and the cartoon on his script file which inspired ‘Lost And Found’ with its clever twist and introspective story of self-discovery – to snapping a tendon in his finger playing football and cracking jokes about Home and Away, Tinder and co-star Stefan Dennis which kept everyone laughing throughout. uring ‘Meet Me On The Steps Of The Bombed Out Church’ (written about Liverpool’s St Luke’s), he spoke about how the UK is his second home, and from how the crowd embraced him he’s definitely been accepted as an honorary Brit – both before and after his set he could be seen chatting to fans and stopping for selfies.

That connection was strongly emphasised through the humorous side of the set. ‘How Good Is Bed’ was a great example, with its jangly, early Beatles-esque melody and cheeky lyrics which Alan delivered at a breakneck pace. Elsewhere, ‘Somebody’, which Alan performed as a duet with wife Jennifer, provided a lovely moment as they waltzed about the stage midway through the tongue-in-cheek, rollicking number about the little frustrations of a long-term relationship, and ‘Spend A Little Time With Me’ had a gorgeous bright melody that balanced the playful lyrics perfectly.

However, there was still plenty of space for slower moments too. ‘Fish And Whistle’, a cover of the John Prine classic, was a standout for me, which brought out the edge in Alan’s voice and featured an impressively long whoop at the end. I also loved the storytelling in ‘Jack’, a tribute to Alan’s grandfather which also saw him produce some impressive harmonica playing, whilst ‘Leaving’ had a wistful yet resigned feel about it and ‘Sorry Is The Word’ – his second duet with Jennifer – beautifully told the story of a long-parted couple looking back on their mistakes in a way that didn’t so much tug the heartstrings as fully yank on them.

After closing his main set with ‘For The Love Of Lager’, a hilarious ‘I’ve Been Everywhere’-style diatribe about how even the simple act of ordering a beer has become increasingly complicated, Alan left the stage briefly before acquiescing to the crowd’s demands for ‘one more song!’. He happily obliged with his take on John Prine’s ‘Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness’, which for me summed up all the best qualities of the set with its bouncy melody and melancholy lyrics, as well as highlighting the depth in Alan’s vocals. It was a great way to end the show and left me – and the rest of the audience – feeling on a high.

Overall Alan Fletcher delivered a show that surprised in the best possible way. He had a fantastic vocal quality throughout as well as some solid guitar playing, but what elevated the evening for me was the balance he struck between thoughtfulness and fun and the strength of his connection with the crowd. It’s safe to say he’s going to appeal to music fans way beyond just those who know him from ‘Neighbours’, and personally I’m very intrigued to see where he’s going to take his music next.

Set list: 1. All That I Can Do 2. Hey You 3. Meet Me On The Steps Of The Bombed Out Church 4. The Point 5. Lost And Found 6. How Good Is Bed 7. Quiet Time 8. Jack 9. Leaving 10. Fish And Whistle (John Prine cover) 11. Somebody (with Jennifer Hansen) 12. Sorry Is The Word (with Jennifer Hansen) 13. Spend A Little Time With Me 14. For The Love Of Lager Encore: 15. Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness (John Prine cover) Performance date: 28th March 2023

See Alan Fletcher live on tour in the UK this spring (with Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes):

Wednesday 29th March: Selby – Selby Town Hall
Thursday 30th March: Settle – Settle Victoria Hall
Friday 31st March: Newcastle – Cluny2
Saturday 1st April: Worcester – The Marrs Bar
Sunday 2nd April: Leamington Spa – Temperance
Monday 3rd April: Bury – The Met
Tuesday 4th April: Berwick-upon-Tweed – Radio Rooms
Wednesday 5th April: Edinburgh – Bannerman’s
Thursday 6th April: Glasgow – Òran Mór
Friday 7th April: Liverpool – Jimmy’s
Sunday 9th April: Leicester – The Musician (Alan Fletcher only)

Laura Cooney
Laura Cooney
Laura has been writing for Entertainment Focus since 2016, mainly covering music (particularly country and pop) and television, and is based in South West London.

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Alan Fletcher is best known to most UK audiences for his long-running performance on Aussie soap 'Neighbours' as Dr Karl Kennedy (he's been on the show since 1994 and will return for the series revival later this year). But he's also long been cultivating...Alan Fletcher, The Bedford, London live review