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Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour - Birmingham Review

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Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
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Keep Dancing With The Strictly Celebrities & Dancers
Strictly Come Dancing The Live Tour is back and with its 10th anniversary celebration and the final farewell from judge Len Goodman, it all feels a bit more special.

Strictly come dancing the live tour, Birmingham , review
Keep dancing with contestants on the live tour

The tour opened at Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham where it stays until January 22 and then moves on to most major cities across the country until February 12.

Whereas there's a natural level of pantomime with the judges, this time around the live tour competition feels more exciting as the level of dancing between the final three was particularly high. It's a mouthwatering prospect that those finalists are all here on tour - winner Ore Oduba (dancing with Karen Clifton instead of Joanne Clifton, who is on tour with the show Thoroughly Modern Millie), Louise Redknapp with partner Kevin Clifton, and Danny Mac with Oti Mabuse.

On the wings providing comedy are Ed Balls with dancer Katya Jones and Lesley Joseph with Gorka Marquez, while Daisy Lowe and Alja˛ Skorjanec add that extra touch of style, sophistication and model looks.

Strictly come dancing the live tour, Danny Mac
Danny Mac thrills Strictly audiences on the tour

There's also a lot of love for Len from the audience and he gets a sentimental reception as he prepares to bow out of Strictly for good. There's even a chance for him to relive his favourite Strictly dance routines of all time. Len is chipper and more chatty than normal, retelling all kinds of bizarre tales.

Joining him and dastardly Craig Revel Horwood on the judging panel is former professional dancer and It Takes Two regular Karen Hardy, adding fuel to rumours she may be his replacement. Karen is fair but strict with her marks and commands respect with her professional knowledge.

Meanwhile, previous contestant and Countryfile presenter Anita Rani is compere for the night. It was always going to be a hard act to follow last year's naughty comedy of likeable presenter Mel Giedroyc of Bake Off fame but Rani is surprisingly funny and very slick, making a good job of her role. She also looks mighty glamorous after being sprinkled with Strictly stardust.

The Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour opens with a glamorous 1950's style group number before the contest gets under way. The audience at each session are encouraged to vote by text to declare a winner after each of the pairings have performed twice. Ori may have won the TV competition, but will he be the favourite on the night?

Alja˛ Skorjanec, Strictly come dancing the live tour, daisy Lowe and
Alja˛ Skorjanec and Daisy Lowe add glamour to the contest.

Over the next two and a bit hours, favourite routines from the TV show make a reappearance including the unforgettable Gangnam Style from the unrelenting Ed Balls.

Danny and Oti are first up and a cut above with a Charleston to Puttin' On The Ritz but that doesn't even compare to the distinctive, showstopping African-themed samba performed after the interval, which is just as jaw-dropping when seen live. Danny comments after that it should become the new Macarena and we should all learn it to dance in bars. That's not a bad idea.

While Lesley and Gorka go big on drama with movie week's quickstep to A Couple Of Swells from Easter Parade and also a Charleston to The Boy Friend tune Won't You Charleston With Me? Lesley is likeable and impressive as a woman in her 70's with such rhythm and energy.

Then there is Daisy and Aljaz doing the salsa to Deee-Lite's Groove in the Heart and a mesmerising waltz to Nat King Cole's Unforgettable that dazzled the audience into silence. You could hear a pin drop as they swirled under dangling chandeliers.

Ed and Katya are fun all the way with the American Smooth to Is This The Way To Amarillo? with THAT crazy lift and the hugely anticipated Salsa to Psy's Gangnam Style. It was the highlight of the night until Revel Horwood ended up having a go at the Gangnam with Katya himself - and that was just too hilariously fab-u-lous.

Ed balls and katya, gangnam style, Strictly Live Tour
Ed and Katya thrill with Gangnam Style on the Strictly tour

Cute couple Louise and Kevin perform the paso doble they thrilled with in Blackpool along with the Calamity Jane quickstep from musicals week showing just how much talent Louise has.

Finally, Ore and Karen do the jive to Bruno Mars' Runaway Baby and later the Gershwin showdance that helped win him the final to I've Got Rhythm. It's a spectacular worthy of a Strictly title.

Added to that are some simply dazzling professional dance routines to the music of West Side Story and Chicago with an aerial artist thrown in for extra razzmatazz. Plus there's the talented band and singers Tommy Blaize, Andrea Grant, Lincoln Jean-Marie, Alison Jiear and Hayley Sanderson adding to the live aspect of the session.

With only the champion left to crown, the public vote declared Danny Mac the first Strictly tour winner in Birmingham but anything could and will happen on the British tour.

Following the same formula as the TV format, the Strictly Live tour has perfected its routine over the past 10 years and seems to be only getting stronger. It keeps fans coming back time and time again for the glamour, personalities and, of course, the dancing. So, here's a toast to its next decade as it keeps dancing.

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Why? Enjoy the glamour and dancing of Strictly Come Dancing live
When: Tour until
Phone: 0844 338 8000
Where: Barclaycard Arena
Cost: From £35
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