Monday, January 09, 2017

Sixties Gold show in Ipswich

My intrepid American pal Noah Schaffer fearlessly attended a Sixties Gold show at the Regent, Ipswich, on his last UK visit. Here's his review.
On my way home from Skegness I saw a different kind of 60s legends package. The Sixties Gold Tour is one of the several vintage pop/rock tours that endlessly circulate around the UK theatre circuit. As is often the case with oldies shows some moments were stronger than others.
All of the artists except the self-contained Searchers were backed by the current version of the Pacemakers (minus Gerry). They were competent and far too loud and lacked any real feeling for the music, as evidenced by the cheesy synthesizer sounds that frequently rose to the top of the mix.
Opening the night was Wayne Fontana, the one-time Mindbenders singer who after some legal tussles is now residing in Spain. With his trademark wide-brimmed hat (variations of which were on sale at his merch table) and long grey hair Fontana is certainly a character, and the many jokes he told between songs were as vintage as the music. But his voice is still strong and he was able to deliver excellent versions of 'Game of Love' and his surprisingly good hit cover of Major Lance's 'Um Um Um Um Um Um.' An Elvis medley followed before Fontana, without explanation, sang 'Groovy Kind of Love,' which was actually a hit for the Mindbenders after Fontana had left. Fontana's set was, for me, one of the highlights of the night.
Up next was a man who has truly had nine lives in show business. Rockabilly collectors will likely know
P J Proby's original incarnation as the Texas shouter Jeff Powers. Proby cut some records in LA before moving to the UK where his career exploded before being cut short when he was blacklisted after his pants ripped on stage - hard to imagine such an incident causing a scandal today. But he stuck through it and has since alternated between experimental (and in at least one case shamefully racist) cuts and playing commercially-minded shows on the oldies circuit.
This evening found him applying his great Texas swagger to 'Stagger Lee.' Charlie Rich's 'Lonely Weekends,' Eddie Cochran's '3 Steps to Heaven,' West Side Story's 'Somewhere' and his hit 'Hold Me' (which featured Jimmy Page on the original recording). I wouldn't vouch for Proby's personal character but no one could question the 78 year old's showmanship or vocal prowess.
The first half concluded with the Tremeloes, who, after some lineup shuffles, now are made up of original lead Brian Poole, vocalist/drummer Dave Munden plus key mid-60s lead vocalist Chip Hakes. (The sidemen who had been touring with Munden will not be on their own as the Trems, a Tremeloes tribute band).
Somewhat suprisingly they appeared not as a self-contained band but as a vocal trio backed by the house band, but the harmonies of 'Silence is Golden' and 'Here Comes My Baby' were as magic as ever, while Poole brought the group back to its early R&B roots with 'Do You Love Me?' and 'Twist and Shout.' Every act got about 25 minutes and that wasn't nearly enough to get very far into the Tremeloes' deep catalogue. The three have announced that they will be doing an extensive tour on their own in 2017.
I considered leaving at intermission and, in retrospect, I should have. The second half started with Gary Puckett on what was incredibly his first UK tour ever. (Perhaps he's trying to drive out the phony Union Gap UK which plays the British oldies circuit.) Puckett and the Union Gap's 60s pop are a guilty pleasure of mine, and Puckett was actually the first artist I ever saw live aside from children's concerts. But why the 74 year keeps up a heavy tour schedule is a bit of a mystery, as he neither sounds very good nor seems to be enjoying himself either on stage or while meeting fans after. (All the acts except for Proby hit the lobby for meet-and-greets following their sets). On 'Young Girl' and 'Woman Woman' Puckett sort of talk-mumbled his way through the songs instead of even attempting to hit the original notes.
The night ended with the current incarnation of the Searchers, with rhythm guitarist John MacNally the only original. (Mike Pender now tours on his own with a far superior show.) The replacement members managed to be way too late and low-energy at the same time on 12 string classics like 'Needles and Pins' and a Buddy Holly medley. After their perfunctory finish the show concluded without the customary all-cast finale that a number of audience members were expecting. While certainly an uneven evening, it was stil great to see the likes of Fontana, Proby and the Tremeloes as it is hard to imagine any of them appearing in the US.


At 3:46 pm , Blogger Nick said...

Nick Sands commented in Facebook: Sounds like a truly horrific night, that not even a right minded resident of Ipswich, should have swapped for their nightly soap opera on TV, let alone a wayfaring stranger all the way from the United States of America. To which Noah replied: Nick Cobban and Garth Cartwright warned me! Still glad I went. Oh forgot to mention Proby used a real band but canned female backup singers!


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home