Monday, April 20, 2009

2Is reunion runs its course

The third 2Is gig at the 100 Club last night could well be the last. Attendance was well down on the previous two events organised by Keith Woods to commemorate the famous Soho coffee bar that sparked the first flush of British rock and roll. But without a Cliff Richard, a Marty Wilde or a Tommy Steele to draw the crowds it looks as though it has run its course.
Last night's show was not without interest, and some of the music was pretty good, but most of the performers had appeared before and their cover versions - good though many of them were - can never replace the originals. I missed the first couple of hours and arrived as Chas McDevitt's Super Skiffle group was running through a well thumbed repertoire of skiffle songs. Skiffle's time passed 50 years ago and it's tough getting anything new out of the genre but the guys tried hard. Next on was Sound of the Shadows featuring Licorice Locking and Clem Cattini, who performed note perfect versions of such Shadows hits as Apache, Wonderful Land and Atlantis, plus an impressive version of Telstar.
Vince Eager was one of the bigger names of UK rock and roll and still retains a strong voice and an exciting delivery. His was one of the more exciting sets of the night, but was running late and clearly annoyed Wee Willie Harris, who no doubt felt that he was the real star of the night. Willie is something of a national treasure and it's fun to see him in action. At least his Rockin' at the 2Is was an original, unlike his other numbers, and his lively stage act definitely belied his 76 years. The final act I saw, before tiredness drove me away, was Russ Sainty, making his 2Is reunion debut. He calls himself the 'King of the Cali' - a reference to his residency at the California Ballroom in Dunstable. Russ was a fairly obscure recording artist of the early sixties in the Cliff Richard mould who released around eight 45s without every having a significant hit, but still has a good act and effective stage presence.
Keith has to be commended for putting on the show, as do the acts, who showed that there's still life after 60 if you keep on rocking. Let the good times roll.


At 11:52 pm , Anonymous Tony Papard said...

I was there from start to finish, and while it was enjoyable, I feel the format/title has to change if gigs like this are to continue.

The Gene Vincent/Eddie Cochran tribute next year for the 50th anniversary of their British tour, when Eddie was sadly killed in a car crash, is one such new format, and will feature two big names on the rock'n'roll circuit today - Ervin Travis and Graham Fenton.

I personally feel we need names like this for these TFTW gigs, as there is so little rock'n'roll in London nowadays. Flyin' Saucers are another good band, even if Keith can't bring himself to put on the greatest British Teddy boy/rockabilly/ rock'n'roll band of all time - Crazy Cavan and The Rhythm Rockers. (Like Marmite, it seems you either love 'em or hate 'em. But they do write original songs. I saw them at the same venue the week before, they performed their tribute to the late Bo Diddley 'Bo Diddley Bye Bye' which is also on their latest CD 'Let's Fuckin' Rock'. A good album well up to their high standards of the past nearly 40 years I have been following them buying their records.)

But I have digressed. What I'm saying is that these older 1950s/early 1960s artists need to be supported by some rock'n'roll revival bands in order to draw in the punters.

It would also introduce great artists like Wee Willie Harris, Vince Eager, Danny Rivers, Dave Sampson, etc, etc. to a younger generation of rock'n'roll/ rockabilly fans.

Cliff Richard, Marty Wilde, Tommy Steele, etc. are never going to be playing TFTW gigs - too expensive, and do I really want to hear Tommy sing 'Little White Bull' or Cliff sing some of his latest hits? No!

There is definitely a need for one-day rock'n'roll events in London, but the British originals from the 1950s/early 1960s, in my opinion, need some support from artists/groups who came along in later decades playing the same sort of music to boost the attendances at these gigs.

The 2Is format is becoming a little repetitive, and has probably run its course. Let's move on to a more general rock'n'roll and Roots music format for these one-dayers.

At 6:26 pm , Blogger Janet Thresher said...

I agree with Tony. It does need some youthful rockers to appear alongside the 1950's legends. Vince and Wee Willie were both head and shoulders above the rest. Their stage presence, charisma and voices are better than they ever were but for 2 guys, sorry 3, Danny Rivers was also on top form, to carry a 6 hour show is impossible. C'mon TFTW listen to your public!


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