IMAGINE seeing one of your favourite artists live on stage almost three decades since he passed away.
Well, that was what we got at the First Direct Arena on Saturday night as Roy Orbison returned from beyond the grave to perform in front of an adoring Leeds crowd.
OK, so it was not actually Roy Orbison.
It was, in fact, a state-of-the-art hologram of the Texan singer accompanied by archive live recordings of his greatest hits.
Nevertheless, backed by the 30-plus members of the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, it made for a fantastic evening’s entertainment.
Support was provided by excellent warm-up act The Haley Sisters, who hail from Bingley and played a number of covers and material of their own.
Sisters Jo-Ann and Becky are blessed with amazing voices and were complemented by award-winning songwriter and slide guitarist Brian, who joined the talented country music duo in 1993.
Then it was time for virtual Roy to take centre stage as he ascended through the stage floor in a grey suit with fringed sleeves, black sunglasses and black shirt.
As the show kicked off with the hologram singing Only The Lonely alongside the full orchestra, it was clear no expense had been spared on the figure of virtual Roy as he strummed away on a red guitar.
The attention to detail was fabulous and some extent of character was even injected into the hologram, with Roy thanking the audience as they applauded him, and the star turning to the orchestra to acknowledge them too.
Orbison’s sons created the show, expertly stripping back the idol’s vocals, which were then played alongside the music of the orchestra.
It made for a superb night as tracks such as In Dreams, Dream Baby, Running Scared and Blue Angel were lapped up by the mesmerised audience.
Midway through the show came a video of tributes from an array of stars who have worked with the icon, including Bono, the late, great Tom Petty, The Blues Brothers’ Steve Cropper and Brummie rocker Jeff Lynne.
Raw emotion came through during their tributes and Travelling Wilburys colleague Tom Petty summed up the late star with this delightful anecdote.
“Roy would lean over and say I’ve got some cherry cokes for later – like it was contraband or something,” remembered The Heartbreakers singer with a huge smile.
Top hits including Uptown, Mean Woman Blues, Pretty Paper, and You Got It followed before the show came to a close with I Drove All Night and Pretty Woman.
The only complaint was that there was no encore and a personal favourite of mine, Penny Arcade, was omitted from the set, which lasted just one hour.
But what a set it was.