Sunday, September 09, 2018

Dave Berry at the Water Rats

The latest Tales From The Woods live gig, at the Water Rats near King's Cross last night, starred Dave Berry, a man who had several hits during the sixties but is probably best known for 'The Crying Game', a song that was featured in the 1992 film of the same name. Now 77, he is still slim and has quite a bit of stage presence, with his trademark of toying with the microphone cord  still very much part of his act. His vocal range is rather limited these days, meaning that high notes have to be disguised, but he came across pretty strongly, due in no small part to the backing of the Tales From The Woods Band, on this occasion a three piece with guitar, bass and drums.
Dave came on stage wearing one white glove and began with Fats Domino's 'I'm Ready', moving on to his first hit, a cover of Chuck Berry's 'Memphis, Tennessee'. Most of his act comprised R and B standards, including 'Watch Your Step', 'Stormy Monday Blues', 'Route 66', 'Mona', 'My Baby Left Me' (his second single) and 'Let's Work Together'. But it was on his own material that he was most effective, notably 'This Strange Effect', written by Ray Davies, which proved ideal for his mesmeric mic cord movements. 'The Crying Game' was, not surprisingly the high point and he finished off with a rousing version of 'Promised Land'. An enjoyable, if not actually great, set I thought.
Earlier the Tales From The Woods trio (without their usual keyboard and horn players) performed a rock and roll set under the name of the Bi-Polar Bears, with John Spencely's excellent guitar work and first rate vocals coming across well on number's such as Chuck Berry's 'Come On' and 'Peggy Sue Got Married'. Not sure why they wore yellow and black stripey convict shirts (maybe they had just been let out for the night), but they sounded good and it was a great start to the evening.
This was followed by a rather strange shortish set by Johnny Stud, once of Rocky Sharpe and the Replays. Dressed in a black and white jacket. he seemed under rehearsed or nervous possibly, forgetting the lines at one point and reading the lyrics from his music stand on occasions. He began with Ritchie Valens' 'Come On Let's Go' and followed up with Rosie and the Originals' 'Angel Baby'. I happen to love Rosie's sweet innocent sounding original (to coin a phrase) but this was anything but sweet and innocent. Other numbers included 'I'm Walkin'', 'It's Only Make Believe', Roy Orbison's 'Ooby Dooby' and 'Who's That Knocking', first recorded by the Genies in 1959. Keith Woods, who once again promoted this show, said afterwards that this was the first time that Johnny had performed without a vocal group behind him, and it showed.
This is the last TFTW show until next June and, although poorly attended and uneven at times, it was good fun, thanks largely to Dave and those Bi-Polar Bears - John Spencely, Rob Davis on bass and Jeff Tuck on drums.


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