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A faultless celebration of the original “Man in Black”, the Johnny Cash Roadshow presented two hit-packed sets, Worcestershire-based Clive John stepping in for Cash.

A seasoned singer and musician, Clive John has been touring with the “roadshow” for more than ten years, the first version of the show having aired in 2005. Since then, the show has gone from strength to strength, as evidenced by the fact that Clive (along with his band) had recently returned from touring on the continent, having performed in countries such as Germany, Norway and Finland.

Spanning the forty-eight years that Johnny was musically active, Clive kicked off with some of his oldest hits, swiftly introducing Amanda Stone, “his” June Carter, a chanteuse who was well-known in her own right for being part of the Carter family before hooking up with Cash. Making the most of her voice with a flurry of spine-chillingly beautiful duets with Clive, Amanda proved to be a star in her own right, the “backing band” – consisting of a lead guitarist, double bassist and drummer – laying down the tightest of base rhythms.

A walking, talking Cash songbook, Clive confessed that he had been a Cash fan since the age of five when he first heard one of his songs. As well as sounding uncannily like the great man, Clive looked the part, his hair, clothes and mannerisms paying tribute to the “Folsom Prison Blues” crooner in their own way.

Cleverly utilising accompanying video-screen images of Cash from all periods of his decades-spanning career, Clive ensured that his “roadshow” was as spectacular as could be, a fun factor pervading throughout.

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Clive’s pitch-perfect rendition of “Hurt” couldn’t have been more spellbinding had it been sung by Cash himself, the song’s haunting emotional intensity impossible to ignore.

From “Cocaine Blues” to “Jackson”, “A Boy Named Sue” to “I Walk the Line”, Cash’s songs were awarded the freshest lease of life imaginable courtesy of Clive, a man who clearly adores every aspect of Cash’s chequered musical history.

Finishing with the obligatory run-through of “Ring of Fire”, the anthem best associated with “Classic Cash” (even though it was actually written by June Carter Cash and Merle Kilgore), Clive and band left the stage with smiles as wide as Texas. Needless to say, they weren’t the only ones.

(Steve Rudd)



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