No matter what they take from me, sings Whitney Houston in one of her most famous songs, they can’t take away my dig-ni-ty. Can I be frank, girlfriend? Right now they are having a damn good try.
Whitney Houston has been dead for eight years but via the mawkish wonders of technology, this singing treasure has been dug up, digitalised, poured into a golden frock and is back on the road again – only this time as a singing hologram performing her greatest hits accompanied by a live band, backing singers and dancers.
This Hologram tour had its world premiere in Sheffield last night, where around 1,800 fans seemed happy to pay £30 to £65 each to watch the ghoulish spectacle of this spectre; a shimmering apparition of a deceased diva miming to newly remastered vocal tracks while wearing a pair of orange feathered knickerbockers. Honestly, I thought Yorkshire people had more sense.
From my seat in the balcony, the Whitney hologram looks too much like a plasticised dolly for comfort, waving her arms as if communicating in sign language with some invisible ducks, writes JAN MOIR
During her opening number, Higher Love, Holo-Whitney pads around the stage with little geisha steps, occasionally tapping the mic with elegant fingers, just like real-life Whitney once did. She even has an imaginary handkerchief to mop her imaginary sweat, ditto.
Yet from my seat in the balcony she looks too much like a plasticised dolly for comfort, waving her arms as if communicating in sign language with some invisible ducks. Like Tinkerbell, she vanishes only to appear moments later in a different costume as if regenerated in the Star Trek transporter.
Help! Is she/it actually going to speak to us? Yes – but only in vaguest showbizspeak – how ya doin’?
Matters turn creepy when the audience start applauding one of those pitch perfect Whitney notes, held until every bit of juice is squeezed, like always. But what are we fools applauding, if not an utter mirage?
There’s a big dude in the front row who films nearly the whole show on his phone; capturing an image of an image, a palimpsest of fakery, a hollow trophy of something that never was. Whitney doesn’t care. She sings I Have Nothing and some fans start dancing in the aisles, lost in the moment, as if they have caught Whitney-fever. Has everyone gone mad?
Matters turn creepy when the audience start applauding one of those pitch perfect Whitney notes, writes JAN MOIR
Of course, there have been pop star holograms before, but never on such an ambitious scale. Whitney’s hologram tour plays a dozen more dates in the UK and thence to Europe, America, infinity and beyond. At least the hotel costs will be minimal and there will be no backstage strops or drug problems, like before.