REVIEW: Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, until Saturday, April 5.

It’s a strange thought that the Buddy Holly Story has been going for longer than Buddy ever lived – a thought which probably says it all about both show and singer.

Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, until Saturday, April 5.

It’s a strange thought that the Buddy Holly Story has been going for longer than Buddy ever lived – a thought which probably says it all about both show and singer.

The Buddy Holly Story offers a terrific tribute to a showman who really did change the face of popular music. And it offers the proof with a couple of hours of great songs, delivered by Glen Joseph as the man himself.

Buddy Holly was just 22 when he died in a plane crash on February 3 1959, but he left behind him a fantastic collection of songs. It’s not often that you get to hear them together, but put them together, and you get the full force of a remarkable singer and songwriter.

But the show offers more than the songs, sketching in Buddy’s life story and character as well, from his refusal to play country to his love of rock and roll, from the creation of The Crickets through to the tensions which ripped them apart.

The show dips just a little mid-way through both first and second half, in the first with a depiction of a recording session (including frequent plunges into darkness) that doesn’t quite come off and in the second with the rather laboured preamble to the final concert Buddy ever gave.

But when the concert starts, recreated on stage, it’s a superb end to a great evening, fabulous musicianship combining with fabulous music to mark the death of a genius still mourned more than half a century after his passing.

Phil Hewitt