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Midnight Hour performing The Sound of the Commitments on the coast earlier this year. SUR
Midnight Hour: The iconic sound of Afro-American soul on the Costa
Music

Midnight Hour: The iconic sound of Afro-American soul on the Costa

The Sound of The Commitments is based on the cult movie that features hits by artists such as Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding

Tony Bryant

Fuengirola

Friday, 26 April 2024, 13:43

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One of the coast's newest bands, Midnight Hour, is returning to local live music venues with its show, The Sound of The Commitments, a performance based on the 1991 musical drama, The Commitments. The band recreates the music of this cult film, which focuses on a young music fanatic who assembles a group of working-class youths to form a band in the tradition of 1950s and 60s African-American recording artists. As with the box-office smash hit movie, which resulted in two soundtrack albums released by MCA Records, the band's show includes music by some of soul's most celebrated artistes, such as Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding, to name a few.

The ten-piece band, which formed last summer, perform classic soul tracks like Mustang Sally, In the Midnight Hour, Chain of Fools, Mr Pitiful and I Can't Stand the Rain, among others. SUR in English caught up with Nik Prescott, the band's guitarist, prior to their two gigs at the Salón Varietés Theatre in Fuengirola next month.

Born in 1971, Nik studied jazz at the Leeds College of Music, although he grew up listening to rock bands like Metallica, Nirvana and Iron Maiden. The 53-year-old guitarist, who says he has had a "bizarre music career", came to live permanently on the coast in 2009, and began working as a sound and light technician at the Salón one year later. He has also worked as a music teacher at the British School in Marbella, where he was employed for three years.

Along with Andy, a local saxophonist, Nik helped find suitable members to form the band, which was no easy task considering they were trying to recreate the songs of one of the most exciting periods in modern music, and the voice of Andrew Strong, one of the most natural soul singers of his generation. Strong was only 16 years of age when he landed the role of Deco Cuffe in the movie, for which he and the cast received a nomination for the Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.

"We began talking about the project about a year ago. I pulled in some musicians that I know, and Andy brought in some of those that he knew. It took quite a while to get the lineup right, but eventually we put the core of the band together. We began rehearsals at the end of August, but because most of us are involved with other music projects, it was a bloody nightmare getting everyone together at the same time," Nik says, bursting into laughter.

One of the most difficult roles was that of the vocalist, which was filled by Christian Wilkins, a non-professional singer from the UK who now lives on the coast.

"We began playing Commitments' songs and the show kind of evolved from there. We found three excellent female backing singers, then we came across Christian. He had not performed professionally before, but he had such a good vibe, and a great attitude, which made us want to work with him. Some of the people we tried may have been more established than Christian, but for us it was a no-brainer. We all get on and we click as a band, which is very important for a ten-piece," the guitarist says.

Nik, who describes the ensemble as "the hardest working band on the coast (a reference to the movie), says that all the members "are in it for the music and not for the money",

"We all really enjoy performing this show. The reason the band has worked out so well is because we are very democratic. Anything that needs discussing is put to the vote, which is the only way to do things when dealing with ten different musicians," he explains.

Rave reviews

The band's previous shows have received rave reviews from audiences on the coast, many of whom comment on the quality of the music, and the professionalism of the band, which Nik says, "offers a great show that recreates the incredible sound of The Commitments".

"Anyone who comes to the show can expect an energy-packed night of great entertainment and dancing. It is a very visual show, and, of course, with all the iconic tracks, along with some classic soul greats," he concludes.

Tickets for the performances at the Salón Varietés, which start at 7.30pm each night, cost 20 euros and are available from the theatre's website, or from the box office Monday to Friday between 11am and 2.30pm. The band's previous performance at the theatre earlier this year sold out, and tickets for the upcoming shows are selling fast, so early reservations are advised.

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