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Review of Yellow Brick Road Experience: ‘I swear Elton John was in Penticton’

So much energy, showmanship and talent made tribute show a 10/10
Yellow Brick Road Experience featuring Allen Johns rocked the Cleland Theatre in Penticton May 21. On keyboard is Justin Glibbery, Pen Hi’s music teacher and on trumpet is Mike Shell, Penticton Elvis Festival president. (Monique Tamminga Western News)

If you closed your eyes, you’d swear you were listening to Sir Elton John himself singing and plucking away at the piano right here in Penticton on Sunday night.

In front of a sold-out crowd at Cleland Theatre, the audience got to experience the talent and showmanship of The Yellow Brick Road Experience featuring Vernon’s Allen Johns as Elton John.

Backed by a nine-piece band, including Pen High’s very own music teacher Justin Glibbery, The Yellow Brick Road Experience is the whole package and much more with trumpet, flute, drums and guitar making this a show with oomph.

Johns is dressed aptly like Elton, with sparkly sunglasses and elaborate outfits and hats, commanding the stage with a spot-on Elton-like performance with his vocals and mastery piano skills.

This was a highly entertaining show with Johns not only an absolute genius in belting out the high-performance vocals like Elton and tickling the ivories like the UK legend but also as a comedian, keeping the audiences laughing with improv songs and jokes.

He sang Benny and the Jets, changing the chorus up to sing about having your birthday at ‘Denny’s’ as well as incorporating other songs like the Peanuts song into the song.

Penticton Secondary teacher Justin Gibblery, who plays keyboard in the band, did some duelling pianos with Johns for some local fun.

READ MORE: World-class Elton John tribute experience coming to Penticton

The Yellow Brick Road Experience revived all of Elton John’s greatest hits including Rocket Man, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Tiny Dancer, I’m Still Standing, Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting, and Candle in the Wind. Until you experience a show like this, you don’t realize just how many hits Elton John has.

He is truly a living legend and Johns emulates him perfectly.

The audience was often part of the show especially when we got to sing back to Crocodile Rock. Johns even did a comedic rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody.

Penticton’s Mike Shell, a trumpet player in the band and the show’s promoter was great at getting the audience into the show right from the start. Shell is also the president of the Penticton Elvis Festival.

The entire show is made up of Okanagan residents, including 80s super band Parachute Club singer Julie Masi.

Jimmy Leguilloux, on guitar also plays in the Tragically Hip tribute band The Hip Replacements. He rocked out along with the rest of the energetic band.

Shell took a selfie with the Penticton crowd and said they have dreams of taking their show around the world, with interest already from Dubai, Spain and the U.K., Elton’s home country.

You can’t help but walk away from the Yellow Brick Road Experience with a big smile on your face, knowing the fun we had and thinking about getting tickets the next time they’re in town. So please come back.

Next stop for the Yellow Brick Road group is the Hub International Theatre in Chilliwack on Sunday, May 28.

Monique Tamminga

About the Author: Monique Tamminga

Monique brings 20 years of award-winning journalism experience to the role of editor at the Penticton Western News. Of those years, 17 were spent working as a senior reporter and acting editor with the Langley Advance Times.
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