Music Review: The Drifters, M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool

Image Source: M&S Bank Arena

The Drifters have one of the strongest legacies in the history of music, dating back to the formation of the original group in the 1950s. Their influence remains powerful today, as well as its global fanbase. It is their long-standing reputation for excellence, and their list of all-time classic tunes, which attracts crowds like those who came along to watch them live in Liverpool this past Friday.

The staging was simplified; with the exception of the lights changing colour between and during songs, there were no special effects required, ensuring that the focus remained solely on the four leading vocalists and their backing band. After an audio introduction featuring snippets of The Drifters’ authentic hits, the show kicked off with On Broadway, followed by Under The Boardwalk, a favourite amongst all fans. Each of the singers took turns in leading the stage, with one proclaiming that “I’m a Scouser tonight!”

The combination of powerful vocals, catchy beats and funky dance moves rolled on with This Magic Moment, There Goes My First Love and Come On Over To My Place. An occasional narrator would describe their history, which included a section and subsequent extended tribute to Ben E King, which included such songs as I Who Have Nothing, Spanish Harlem and the famous Stand By Me. From there, we had Fools Fall In Love, Down On The Beach Tonight, Hello Happiness (there were some issues with audio which made certain songs hard to hear) and I Count The Tears. Dance With Me and Save The Last Dance For Me closed out the first half, which led to a rather long intermission of just over 30 minutes.

When the show resumed, there were more belting hits to enjoy, beginning with Kissin’ In The Back Row and When My Little Girl Is Smiling. We then had a tribute to Motown, from My Girl to Get Ready, from Sugar Pie Honey to Same Old Song, and with a medley to The Jackson 5 covering I Want You Back and ABC (which was performed suitably high-pitched!). After a nod to Stevie Wonder with Uptight, we moved onto Some Kind Of Wonderful, Up On The Roof and My Sister & Brother. The encore gave us You’re More Than A Number and Saturday Night At The Movies to close the show.

With around an hour per half, the show never outstayed its welcome and left a largely excited audience wanting more. I was hoping for a few other hits, such as I’ve Got Sand In My Shoes and I’ll Take You Where The Music’s Playing, but the tunes that we did get were more than adequate. In fact, they were sung spectacularly, bringing a unique take that didn’t detract from how these songs were performed back in the day. It’s understandable that it would be an older audience attracted to this long-running group, and all around me looked very impressed and entertained.

In summary, The Drifters put on a show to remember, and a show that I would recommend music-lovers of all ages to go and see.

Overall Rating: 8.5/10 – Excellent