Gig review: Billy Ocean @ The Ritz

Everyone from your nan to Dave in IT made their way to the Ritz on Friday night to dad dance in the splendour of 80s smooth operator Billy Ocean.

‘We want Billy’ filled the walls of the Oxford Road venue to the awkward dejection of his warm up act, Urban Outfitters clad Shannon Saunders, who to most of the crowd sounded a lot like ‘that Ellie Goulding girl’.

Though Shannon’s electro pop set, which included a cover of Kwab’s Perfect Ruin, kept The Ritz crowd occupied for 60 minutes, the anticipation for Ocean grew with every track from the 20-year-old churned out.

Brandishing a smile that could even (did) make a twenty something year old almost flat line, the 65-year-old walked onto hearty welcome of his Manchester fans.

Accompanied by a trio of all singing all dancing female backing vocalists, a tenor saxophonist straight out of Miami Vice and a too cool for school guitarist and keyboardist, Billy Ocean delivered a solid two hour set of guilt free 80s R&B pop.

Revisiting tracks like Stand Up, Bittersweet and Tear Down These Walls in a energised medley, the silver dread-locked fox flirted with arm stretched fans who watched on as he whined and jived across the stage, showing everyone that he still very much had it.

Dressed in an electric blue suit and black wing tip Louboutins, the Trinidadian singer showed off his authentic vocals with covers of Sam Cooke, Bob Marley and Ella Fitzgerald.

The tempo was slowed down with truckers’ favourites, The Colour of Love, Suddenly and There’ll be Sad Songs, as Billy’s eager audience unashamedly embraced their inner bathroom shower singer, reciting every lyric and dramatic key changes to a T.

Embracing the chants and screams from the crowd, Billy ‘snake hips’ Ocean encouraged his fans to dance and ‘enjoy the party’, showering them in nostalgic memories of drunk wedding receptions, awkward school discos and late night Magic FM.

Taking time to sign vinyl, pictures and programmes for his adoring fans, Billy showed that his love for the stage was still strong.  

Ending the memorable night with classics like Tough and Get Outta my Dreams, Get into my Car, fans screamed for the star to return to the stage in an exhilarating encore.

The memorial night ended in Billy and his band bellowing out The O’Jays’ timeless Love Train, that instantly created an intertwining human a train line that travelled the crowd.

All in all, Billy delivered an evening of guilt free power ballad indulgence, leaving a lasting impression on revellers who continued to profess their love for the living legend.

Image courtesy of Dwiforr, with thanks.

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