REVIEW: Johnny Cash Roadshow, Torch Theatre, Friday, October 28th, 2011.

From the moment Clive John and the other members of The Spirit Band stepped on to a stage and began playing the first few notes of Folsom Prison Blues, audience members at the Torch Theatre, Milford Haven probably felt as though they were seeing the real Johnny Cash perform.

Having mastered the unmistakable ‘boom-chicka-boom’ sound which Cash perfected throughout his career, the band take the audience through the life of one of America’s greatest musicians, covering hits from the very beginning of his career (Cry, Cry, Cry) right through to Hurt, the Nine Inch Nails cover recorded by Cash just months before his death in 2002.

While Clive John does not try to impersonate Johnny Cash, it seems as if he channels the essence of the Man in Black, with everything from his vocal style to the manner in which he holds the guitar, almost as if it were an extension of his arm.

A surprise treat mid show was The Spirit Band performing a single track from their latest album, The Spirit, giving an interesting and refreshing change in pace to the proceedings.

June Carter Cash’s role was taken on by the talented Jill Schoonjans, whose voice was the perfect compliment to the band.

In addition to her beautiful vocals on duets with Clive John, which included Jackson, Long Legged Guitar Pickin’ Man, Darling Companion and It Ain’t Me Babe, she also demonstrated the use of autoharp with the song Wildwood Flower, mimicking the way June Carter Cash would have played.

Jill also successfully held her own on a stage otherwise filled with men and helped to capture the undeniable chemistry that Johnny and June shared.

The Torch Theatre was filled to capacity and all of the audience was on its feet and cheering by the time the first few notes of Ring Of Fire had rung out.