THE WAY WE WERE: Wayne Hosking, Michael Clift and David Scott will portray the famous Gibb brothers – Maurice, Barry and Robin, respectively – in the Australian Bee Gees Show tour coming to Mildura on May 15.

By MITCH RODD

TRIBUTE acts are the ultimate risk-takers in the music industry.

It can be a delicate balancing act to evoke memories of music icons, without directly emulating them, and creating a captivating performance in their own right.

The Australian Bee Gees Show, however, has proved how good it can be when it works, especially when invoking the unique sound of Brothers Gibb.

Some 23 years after the inception of their act, The Australian Bee Gees Show (ABGS) have celebrated eight years and more than 2500 shows headlining on the Las Vegas Strip, and have now been locked in for another decade.

The ABGS will temporarily leave the bright lights of Nevada for an Australian regional tour, which includes a performance at the Mildura Arts Centre on Wednesday, May 15.

From their first shows in 1996, The ABGS has conquered Las Vegas and has played to capacity houses around the world, cementing their reputation as an exceptional live concert act and the world’s leading Bee Gees show.

Michael Clift, who portrays Barry Gibb in the show, spoke to Mildura Weekly from Las Vegas, and said it had been a whirlwind ride.

“It’s hard to believe we’ve been doing it (Vegas residency) for eight years now,” he said.

“In Vegas there are two occasions when cakes are brought out for your act – after 100 shows and after your last show. It became a running joke between us after our first cake that hopefully the second one was at least another 200 shows away! Now we’ve signed on for another 10 years.

“The Bee Gees are the fourth highest selling pop act of all time, behind The Beatles, Michael Jackson and Elvis, and their music is so recognisable, not only here in Vegas, but even when we do our regional tours.

“Because of the fact the Bee Gees are so huge and their music is so well-known and well-loved, we’re lucky enough that we’re still going after 23 years.

“We knew it would be something people are interested in, but we didn’t know how big it would be.”

The new two-hour show will be presented in two parts and feature all of the hits in a nostalgic trip down memory lane in a multimedia concert event.

Because of the unique voices of the Brothers Gibb, Michael said portraying the Aussie legends is a “fine line to walk”.

“It can be hard to strike that balance to walk between emulating their sound without being comical or a caricature,” he said.

“You also want to find space to put some of yourself into the show without taking away from the essence of what it is about.

“The first step for us was being able to pull it off, and then we had to figure out how to actually do it in a show. Australia is a good place to earn your stripes because Aussie audiences will tell you exactly what they think. They’re a little more polite in America, but in Australia audiences are honest!

“Playing in pubs and clubs, to actually get people to turn their chairs around and face you, you have to do something different.

“We were grinding away for a while until one show when we came on stage people were waiting for us and cheering. We wondered what we had done differently? It seems it just takes some time and word of mouth.

“We haven’t been to Mildura for a couple of years, so the show will be a bit different from last time.

“The first half will be more based around the One Night Only era, and the second half will be more retro and disco-based. We’ll also have a few more songs that we’ve never performed in Australia before. We’re looking forward to getting back to the Mildura Arts Centre.”

To purchase tickets for the Australian Bee Gee Show, visit milduraartscentre.com.au.