LEICESTER 19th Oct 2022
Robert Pratt and Alan Field
Sixties Gold. The very name brings back great memories of those helicon days when the sun always shined in London. Miniskirts and boots were simply sexy and a hundred different bands vied for your 7/6d with their latest 45. They all got it. Fast forward to 2022 and although the band names are still there, the original members are few and far between. That, however, does not detract in the slightest from a night of pure nostalgic entertainment.
Carrying the banner for The Searchers is Spencer James who has been their leader for over three decades. Spencer gets an instant rapport going with the audience, cracking gags between songs, he is seasoned veteran but a natural performer as well. The band do sound like the original Searchers, particularly vocally which with their three-part harmonies was always their greatest draw. The Searchers were tempted out of retirement for this package tour and there is a warm round of applause when Spencer announces that they have decided to go back out on the road again next year with a full show.
Sweets For My Sweet – Don’t Throw Your Love Away - Love Potion No. 9 - Sugar And Spice - Needles And Pins - When You Walk In The Room
Often overshadowed by Liverpool’s finest (The Beatles – duh!), Gerry and The Pacemakers were the first bands to ever achieve No. 1 with their first three singles and sold 65 million records. There are no original members, the closest being Tony Young, Gerry’s musical director since 1995. Nevertheless, the band deliver the songs with aplomb and whilst their new lead singer Rob Linacre has the impossible job of replacing Gerry’s wit, charm and cheekiness, he does well vocally and credit where credit is due, his passion and delivery of You’ll Never Walk Alone is from the heart. Amazingly, he is a Manchester United supporter.
I Like It - How Do You Do It? - Ferry Cross The Mersey - Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying - I’m The One - You’ll Never Walk Alone
Gerry’s Pacemaker’s stay onstage for the next act as his backing band. Gary walks onstage with confidence, looking resplendent in a full-length coat and ready to give it all. He has turned 80 years old just two days ago but you would never guess that because he looks and moves at least twenty years younger than that. His voice is still there, the power, the depth and warmth that captured us all so many years ago is sonorous and I have a flashback to my bedroom as a kid, playing my Young Girl 45 over and over. The audience give him a standing ovation.
Lady Willpower – Over You - The Mighty Quinn - Woman Woman - Pretty Woman -Young Girl
Truth be told, in 99% of all bands, the drummer is the least recognisable and Herman’s Hermits is no exception. Guitarist Derek Leckenby died years ago, bassist Karl Green does his own thing and vocalist Peter Noone has his own Herman’s Hermits so tonight, step up drummer Barry Whitwam who tells us a great meeting Elvis story. Of all the acts tonight, this band had the most hits and sold the most records in the shortest time, a reputed forty million from 1964-67. They are good, they share the lead vocals between the three frontmen and for the first time tonight, some of the audience are on their feet during the set.
Sunshine Girl - Wonderful World - Mrs Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter - No Milk Today - My Sentimental Friend - I’m Into Something Good – A Kind Of Hush
‘Leicester has a special place in the hearts of the Marmalade’ says frontman Sandy Newman, referring to the fact that Marmalde, despite being Scottish, have had a few members from Leicester in the line-up over the years. Sandy has been fronting the band for almost half a century and along with Alan Holmes who joined just two years after Sandy, do the original line-up justice with a wonderful set of songs that are played and sung to perfection. Rainbow is delivered from the heart; the arrangement and singing on Reflections Of My Life is a showstopper
Cousin Norman – Lovin’ Things – Wait For Me Mary-Anne - Rainbow - Falling Apart At The Seams - Radancer - Reflections Of My Life - Ob-la-di Oh-bla-da
The last band, it must be said, is stretching the line-up a bit. No original members as Len ‘Chip’ Hawkes is suffering from an illness and unable to play so both his sons are here for tonight’s band, Jodie, the drummer, being a regular and Chesney Hawkes is handling his Dad’s spot. He tells us that he was with his Dad this morning that his Dad’s advice was ‘Don’t fuck it up’, which Chesney then does - twice in the same song. It’s fun though and there is no denying that the final song, Silence Is Golden, ranks as one of the biggest sellers of the night. They sing it A Capella with a soft guitar and bass accompaniment and it melts the audience.
Here Comes My Baby – Suddenly You Love Me – (Call Me) Number One - Me And My Life – My Little Lady – Even The Bad Times Are Good - Silence Is Golden
As I mentioned above, there were not many original members on display but it didn’t matter. This was a night of sixties bliss, recreating the old package tours of when a half a dozen bands played a half a dozen songs through the same equipment which was just a simple four-piece drumkit and a combo amp each for the guitars. The changeovers took five minutes and were filled by a compare Ally Bally who had an endless stream of jokes about the ages of the band and audience. Back in the day, most of those package tours came to Leicester and many of them played at the De Montfort Hall. Tonight, us that were too young to be there, got a glimpse of what it was like and what a glorious time it was for Pop music.
LEGEND OF ROCK
EX THEATRE, TOKYO 5th Nov 2022
Legend of Rock/Music Life
Tribute bands. Some love them and some loathe them. Personally, providing the band does not exist anymore and the show is faithfully recreated, I say they have a place in today’s world of entertainment and today we had an ensemble that did just that. Firstly, to Deep Purple MkII in their first outing and then the Dio-era Rainbow, both of which, sadly, I never saw in their heyday.
It is August 1972 and Deep Purple are in Japan to play three shows. They would be recorded and eventually released as a live album that would go on to become one of the greatest live albums ever made – Made In Japan. Purple were at their height of musicianship and performance, already renowned for being one of the best Rock shows in the world. The stage is set. Recreating the Budokan with green protective sheeting on the floor under the chairs, the Japanese flag flown from the ceiling and name backdrop sets the scene but could the five musicians walking onstage really do these legends justice? It doesn’t take long to answer that question. From the opening strains of Highway Star, it is evident that this is the closest we will ever get to those hallowed days without a time machine and it’s not only in the music either. The equipment is vintage – one of the Leslie cabinets was used by Jon Lord – and although no footage of the light show exists, the orange hue that graces the cover of the live album (incidentally, called Live in Japan for the Japanese release), is occasionally used, giving that extra hint of what was. The set rolls on, the music is sublime and band’s mannerisms add to the atmosphere, each having obviously studied their respective maestro. They throw in subtleties that the audience smile at and appreciate; Norifuma’s Blackmore guitar antics at the end widen everybody's eyes.
Smoke on the Water
Child in Time
Strange Kind of Woman
Just four years later and Blackmore has left Deep Purple, formed Rainbow, and released two studio albums plus a live one. They are in Japan to play ten shows, two of them at the Budokan. Tonight’s set is based around those shows and the live album but takes a little bit extra from elsewhere. As with the previous band, all the elements are there to transport us back in time to see the gods. Dioken’s voice is astonishing - I swear he was channelling Ronnie James Dio at times - and Hiro Homma did the impossible, playing to perfection Cozy’s battle with the 1812 Overture for the drum solo. The light show was ramped up for this set and they used a projector to replicate the infamous rainbow arc from that tour which by all accounts, never worked properly (the projector however, did). The result was spectacular, modern technology used to enhance a vintage show without overpowering it. The performance, was of course, bookended with Rainbow’s traditional intro and outro tapes.
Intro (Over The Rainbow)
Kill The King
Catch The Rainbow
Man On The Silver Mountain/Blues/Starstruck/MOTSM Reprise
Gates Of Babylon
Still I’m Sad (including keyboard and drum solos)
Long Live Rock And Roll
I’ve singled out a few musicians above which is somewhat unfair as they were all at the top of their game. Both sets were preceded with a short introduction, a story told by someone who was there back in the day and there is no doubt that there were many in the audience who were there as well who, rather interestingly, seemed to be an almost 50/50 split between men and women. To surmise, this was four hours of Classic Rock, performed by class musicians who both know and love this music and are dedicated enough to put more than just a copy band together. If, like me, you have a hiraeth for this era, do not miss it the next time around.
Deep Purple were:
Story Teller：倉林敦夫（EX THEATER ROPPONGI 支配人）