Monday, February 18, 2013

British Rock and Roll Reunion

Less than a month since watching a group of ageing British rock and rollers perform at the Borderline, I was at it again last night - this time at the Rock and Roll Reunion in the expansive and plush surroundings of the Lakeside Country Club in Frimley Green, Surrey. I blame John Spencely, who this time was a punter rather than a performer. I'm no great lover of the home grown variety of what is essentially American music and I've seen most of the acts before, so I didn't go with any great hopes, and these low hopes proved to be well founded in many respects. There were seven acts on the bill but the worst of them, the venerable Wee Willie Harris, spoilt the show for the last three acts by performing an over-long karaoke act comprising no fewer than 13 numbers to a backing track. His set went on and on and as a result shortened the time available for the rest and, to be fair, the best.
First on, backed by the five piece Lord Rockingham Band, was Russ Sainty, who recorded quite a few non-hits in the early sixties. He said that he had been booked by Lakeside club owner Bob Potter in 1961 and was promised a return date - and true to his word he was back 52 years later! He ran through some rather tame versions of Do You Wanna Dance, Viva Las Vegas, Party, Donna, Wear My Ring Around Your Neck, Personality and Can't Help Falling in Love, before finishing with his best original single Race With The Devil. A middle of the road start to the evening overall, and not particularly promising.
Russ Sainty

Next on was Jackie Lynton from nearby Guildford, a man who still plays local pubs and who appeared at the 2 Is show last year. His was a short but amusing set comprising Old Time Rock and Roll, Lawdy Miss Clawdy, Hi Heel Sneakers, Reelin' and Rockin' and Rock And Roll Whisky Blues.
Jackie Lynton
The third act was Jess Conrad who in his day (the early sixties) was regarded as the English Fabian, as he was a good looking lad who couldn't sing very well. He's still much the same today, looking a good deal younger than his years and anything but modest about it. His set comprised much preening and big headed showing off, with a few mostly middle of the road numbers thrown in - Johnny B Goode, Teenager In Love, Daydream Believer, Halfway To Paradise, It's Only Make Believe and Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On. I found his act rather boring, but not as boring as the MC for the evening, sixties veteran Keith Powell, who has clearly failed to find his vocation.
Jess Conrad
The second half began with Wee Willie's karaoke act and the show didn't really get going until the arrival of Mike Berry, this time playing with his band the Outlaws, including bass player Alan Jones, who formerly played with the likes of Cliff Richard and Tom Jones. Mike was on top form again, just as he was at the Borderline, and I really enjoyed his Buddy Holly style singing. His set opened with It's Late and included It's So Easy, High School Confidential, Bobby Vee's More Than I Can Say, Only The Lonely, the instrumental Apache, Living Doll, Move it, his two biggest hits Tribute To Buddy Holly and Don't You Think It's Time, That'll Be The Day and Walk Right Back. Excellent stuff.
Mike Berry
Another performer from the 2 Is show was next - Cliff Bennett, this time playing a with a bunch of Rebel Rousers including saxmen Sid Phillips and Tony Hall (pictured with him below). He started well with Turn On Your Lovelight and Slow Down, but shortness of time and an increasingly raspy voice meant that he only performed five numbers, including Good Golly Miss Molly and his 1964 hit One Way Love, and ending with his biggest hit Got To Get You Into My Life.
The final act, and another one limited by time was boogie woogie piano player Roy Young, who again showed why he was known as the English Little Richard with rousing versions of Dizzy Miss Lizzie, I'm Ready, Blue Monday, Mess Around, I Can't Believe You Wanna Leave, Ready Teddy and Lucille.
Overall a decent show, with a couple of high points and some fairly low ones, but I don't think Keith Woods, promoter of the Borderline shows, has much to worry about. The atmosphere in this huge venue was non-existent, despite the best efforts of the artists. Maybe they should stick to darts there.


At 1:02 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't blame me Nick - you went to the Lakeside of your own accord and went willingly too!
The review sums it up really. The Lakeside isn't a venue for RnR and the atmosphere was rubbish. Roy, Mike and Cliff in particular were wasted in an environment like that. Keith Powell as MC was dull, patronising to the artists and generally devoid of personality. I'll give you your £19 back Nick!
John S

At 3:23 pm , Blogger Nick said...

You don't need to return my £19. As you say I went of my own free will - and I enjoyed quite a bit of the show, even the bad bits at times!

At 4:01 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

From your review Nick, I take it Jess Conrad & Mr Powell will not be high on the list of most wanted for future 2Is shows.
John S (snr)

At 4:20 pm , Blogger Nick said...

Definitely not!

At 3:33 pm , Blogger Nick said...

David Hird emailed me as follows: Just to say I really enjoyed your review of the 17 Feb British R&R Reunion.
I have been asked to put a review together for the Joe Meek Society newsletter and I found yours really helpful to remind me who sang what. If I'd known I'd be doing a review, I'd have taken pen and paper, which I presume is what you did.
Out of interest, you said that Russ Sainty's 'best original single' was 'Race With The Devil'. Have you never heard 'Unforgettable Love'? It's my favourite non-hit of the sixties and I think it would have been big with better promotion, luck and timing - coming as it did at the ascent of Beatlemania, mid 1963.
Anyway, I would have bought you a pint at the Lakeside if I'd known!

At 5:26 pm , Anonymous lynda said...

I agree about the atmosphere it was non existent, when my daughter and i were clapping along we looked at as if we were crazy !As far as we were concerned Mike Berry stole the show, a true class act.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home