Saturday, December 12, 2015

Bit of a Brick



Have loved this song forever, and have played it many times live. Currently rehearsing it with a couple of friends to play live at the end of January.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Gurrumul

There was a moment at Womadelaide a few years ago when Gurrumul silenced a crowd of several thousand mostly white Australians with songs sung in ‘language’. We had no idea what he was singing about, but we knew somewhere it was about things like hills, stories from the Dreamtime, ancestors – things of antiquity. He was the voice of ancient Australia and he had us in the palm of his hand. It was one of the most profound cultural moments I’ve ever experienced. And this concert was another night of magic with this remarkable singer. Billed as the gospel songs tour, it featured several songs from Gurrumul’s past on Elcho Island that are more like hymns than the gospel sounds one associates with black America.
The show began with safe territory – two of Gurrumul’s better known songs – Wiyathul, and Bapa, a dedication to fathers everywhere, and they set the inspirational tone for the rest of the evening. When long time Gurrumul collaborator Michael Hohnen announced that they were now going to play the religious tunes it seemed a little superfluous, as these songs are deeply spiritual in the effect they can have on an audience.
Nevertheless, local Adelaide choir Women with Latitude joined the band for the religious/gospel part of the set and it’s a match made in heaven. They provided a beautiful soft backdrop to Gurrumul’s timeless vocals, embellishing every note with a restrained ethereal presence. When they did crank up the volume later in the show on a Gurrumul original, while singing in his native Yolngu tongue, the whole effect was superb. It was quite noticeable too that as soon as multiple voices are added to Gurrumul’s songs you can hear the link with the islander music of the Pacific.
There is something intangibly primal about Gurrumul’s ability to cut across Australian cultures with the voice of a songbird that soothes and caresses and delivers you to a place of immense joy and deep satisfaction. He is an extraordinary gift to this land.

Another original song, The Crow, was richly textured and again showed Gurrumul’s ability to portray simple symbols from the world of nature in a way that all Australians can appreciate. A catchy reggae tune closed out the evening. Just the standing ovation was left, which of course Gurrumul can’t see. I hope someone tells him about it. But my guess is he can probably sense it.  

Also published on The Clothesline

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Boomers' Legacy

OK. I’m going to write this rather than talk it. In truth, I wasn’t a big fan of Stairway to Heaven. In fact the song drove me nuts. As a guitarist and busker I was asked hundreds of times if I knew how to play it but I never learned it. But the version of this song in this concert is a stunner. Nor was I a great fan of Led Zeppelin after their early years. Like many bands their best came early on and they never quite reproduced the edge of their early stuff. So the reference to Led Zeppelin being the ‘wind beneath the wings of a generation’ was really using them as a metaphor for all the music that served that function. It could have been The Who, Stones, Beatles, Animals, Hendrix, etc – it was the collective impact of new rock that sustained the cultural change.
What of that change? Yes there were early utopian claims that the Age of Aquarius would herald the age of peace and equality, but it clearly didn’t happen. So what did change? It definitely drove a wedge between mine and my parents’ generation. By the time I was 20 I was living a life that was eons apart from theirs. The outward expression of this gulf was our appearance. We let our hair grow, wore daggy or weird clothes, stopped going to church and moved in to shared houses. Youth embraced a new freedom that was missing in previous decades, and the stifling tyranny of the family unit was broken. And rock music was our music, our mouthpiece. It’s not just the music that did it – it was a mix of many things – but the music was the outward expression of liberty that youth had discovered.
The legacy of this time can still be seen in a myriad of things:
·         It is now for example quite OK to go to a fancy theatre in jeans and a t-shirt. Or the CBD. Or anywhere. This breaking down of a strict uniformity of dress code for all began in the late 60s.
·         It began a globalisation of the world. People like Dylan helped people realise that struggles were the same the world over.
·         Young people started to travel – roaming far away countries for months on end.
·         People began to live together out of wedlock en masse and eventually wore down the importance of the institution of marriage.
·         Mainstream religion suffered a massive downturn in appeal. People began to look elsewhere – Buddhism, meditation, Eastern religions generally – for spiritual sustenance.
·         Communities based on very different values like Nimbin and others on the northern coast of NSW began to spring up all over the world. Many dropped out of a mainstream society that no longer met their needs.
·         Many more people began to take drugs and had their consciousness altered. There were plenty of casualties but no one who takes mind altering drugs can ever look at the world the same way again.
·         It did liberate women to some extent. Divorce became socially acceptable and single parents received social security to enable them to live a life free of abusive partners.
None of these things are final. They are processes of cultural change that are still evolving. It’s interesting to think about whether the Boomers created these changes, or whether they happened to them. It’s probably both. Things were changing rapidly, and they were the agents of change.
The fact is that between 1965 and 1975 the Western world changed dramatically. And behind it was this music, these anthems advertising and extolling another life and other values. The music you listen to in your teens and twenties is typically the music that stays with you forever. It is the music that was playing when you were becoming adult and working out who you were and what you believed, and it is woven into your DNA. It provokes deep emotion whenever you hear it. So I understand too well what Robert Plant was feeling as he listened to his song in that concert. Quite frequently, without warning, I’ll be listening to music of that time and tears will come. Tears for the memories, the intense emotions of love and love lost and youth and freedom and good times, for the people who have gone or who got lost along the way. And because these people who inspired us with their anthems of an incredibly exciting time are dying. Every time I see a musician from that time I am acutely aware that it is probably the last time I’ll see them.

We’re still left with a world of wonder and turmoil.

Perhaps the part of the legacy of the 60s and 70s I value above all else is the fact that I am friends with my adult children in a way that was impossible when I was 20. The world had changed too much and too fast for me and my parents to be anything but polite strangers. They simply had no clue who their children were anymore. So I, and many of my generation (Leigh’s going to tell me something different!) made sure as parents that we would never be strangers to our children; that we would never impose on them values that were not theirs. I am friends with my children, and the generation/cultural gap is small. But that is my life….. J  

Saturday, June 20, 2015

"This Music Won't Last"

Sometime during my teen years I was watching rock/pop music on TV and my mother, a classically trained singer and pianist, assured me this music would never last. It was her way of telling me that she thought the music of little value and that I’d be better off spending my leisure time on other things. We often debated this question. I remember another day when I again was watching TV in the lounge and she came through from the kitchen asking ‘who is that with the beautiful speaking voice’? She was shocked to see a long haired, bearded and bizarre character speaking. It was in fact Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull.
I don’t remember really having any sense of belief at the time that the music I loved would last. As I grew older I learned that the pop/rock music of the 60s and 70s represented a radical change from what had gone before, both in terms of sound – they’re had been nothing like it – and the cultural values held by many of its exponents. Long hair and outrageous appearance and on and off stage behaviour was par for the course. As a teenager and early 20 something I was proud that I was part of a new generation that had at least in some sense changed the world. And it satisfied my natural tendency towards rebellion and rejection of my parents’ and mainstream values.
Last night a Facebook friend (who is incidentally also a good friend in ‘real’ life) posted a link to a video from a memorial concert in honour of the pioneer rock band, Led Zeppelin. The video featured a live performance of Stairway to Heaven by Ann and Nancy Wilson. Complete with choir and orchestra I really enjoyed this superb version of ‘Stairway’. But what moved me more was watching the reaction of three of the original members of Led Zeppelin – Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones. Once wild men of rock they were seated in the audience dressed in suits and had it seemed turned into thoroughly respectable old men.
Robert Plant seemed stunned at what he was witnessing. His eyes welled up with tears, and he stared at the performance happening on stage with a kind of ‘what have I done? what did I do?’ expression. But in a positive sense. It was as if he was realising for the first time the beauty and the power of the song he and Jimmy Page had created 44 years earlier. So Stairway to Heaven has lasted and has been enriched and transformed by a new generation of musicians. (John Bonham’s son played drums in this performance.)
My own eyes began to well up as I watched and listened to this wonderful rendition of ‘Stairway’ until I was finally quite simply crying. Crying In support of Robert Plant. As my wife commented I just want to give him a hug. Crying too because I remembered that comment of my mother’s all those years ago and I realised, if I hadn’t before, that the music of my generation has been validated. We weren’t just listening to a passing fad or an aberration in the history of music. We had been part of huge and powerful cultural change that has left an indelible stamp on the world. It did have value.
You could scoff and bemoan the fact I guess that the Led Zap boys are now respectable senior members of the community and wear suits – Robert Plant often performed bare chested for heaven’s sake – but they are no longer wild and provocative young men. They don’t need to be. They, and many of their peers, created music that was the wind beneath the wings of a generation and it is clear now that much of it will outlast them and the generation that is growing old with them.
I felt proud watching this performance that I had made the choices I had, that I had listened to this ‘devil music’ from an early age and I want to believe now that I knew instinctively all those years ago that something huge was happening, and that our music had value. It’s a big call but it felt like it validated much of my life and who I am.
For another example of how another wild man of rock has become part of the musical establishment watch Ian Anderson singing Wondering Aloud with a chamber orchestra.

You were wrong Mum.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Frisky and Mannish - Adelaide Cabaret Festival

Taken by Rosie Collins
What a ride! Roaming spotlights playing over audience and stage at the start of the show suggested we were in for something big! Looking positively glamorous in gold, Frisky and Mannish enter the stage to form a beautiful tableau, and that was about their only serious moment. Everything about this show is over the top. I’m tempted to tag them the greatest hams in the history of show business. But this is a good thing.
Promoting themselves as a bridge between pop and cabaret they set about demolishing everything you may hold dear about either genre in a fast paced, tightly scripted and hilarious send up of a long list of songs and their performers. We learn that most pop singers (except for Katy Perry and her paean to plastic bags) don’t write their own material, and in fact 81% of all popular songs are written by the Bee Gees!! We learn too that Sinead O’Connor wrote way more letters of advice than just the famous one to Miley Cyrus.
There are so many really funny moments. A medley of songs revised for the Internet age inserts Google, tweets, and Facebook into the lyrics of famous songs. “I still haven’t found what I’m googling for.” (U2) A collection of Australian songs reveals their take on the Australian psyche, and a fast and furious trawl through candidates for a feminist anthem is priceless.
And just in case you might think they take themselves seriously, once they’ve finished taking aim at everyone else they turn the blowtorch on themselves.
This superb dismantling of popular culture is all done via bits of well-known songs with altered lyrics, and some of the funniest singing I’ve ever heard. They can make the most beautiful song sound ridiculous, and the most inane pieces sound like works of high art.
Outstanding performers; great writers. They try towards the end to take things seriously again for a minute but it lasts about 30 seconds before their wonderfully weird and demonic selves resume control. They close with a love song to us and all humanity but we know they don’t believe a word of it! Sensational.

(Also published on The Clothesline.)

Sunday, May 31, 2015

WHAT TO DO WITH BIRTHDAYS ON FACEBOOK?

For the last 2 years I have faithfully responded to each and every Facebook birthday greeting received. This year I decided I wouldn’t. I like one friend’s somewhat cynical approach to this issue. The day before their birthday they posted: “To all my FB friends who will inevitably wish me happy birthday tomorrow – thanks in advance!” I contemplated changing my settings so my birthday wasn’t visible but of course I forgot.
On the other side of this FB birthday greeting equation I am unequivocal. I resent FB telling me that some friend or colleague is having a birthday. There’s a momentary pang of guilt as I choose to ignore that person’s birthday ie not send them a greeting. And what about all those I do know quite well, and care about, but if it weren’t for FB’s auto notifications, I would never know it was their birthday - what do I do on their birthdays? I usually ignore them too. And there are those who are really close and whose birthdays I probably know without FB’s help. (My mother used to keep a book for such information – it contained nothing more than a list of people’s birthdays that she wanted to acknowledge.) I might contact some of these close friends/family on their birthdays, or if I only remembered because of FB write something like, “FB tells me it’s your birthday…..” I’m just not comfortable claiming credit for remembering someone’s birthday when I actually didn’t! I know – I should probably get over it. Many others obviously have.
And the thing is I love receiving these greetings from around the world for that 24 hour period once a year. It’s a real buzz, even if most of those greetings would not have been sent if FB hadn’t displayed my birthday in your morning newsfeed. So to all those who did send me birthday greetings - thank you! I appreciate it. However, I have 400 + friends on FB apparently, and received about 70 birthday greetings. So what’s with you other 300?? Don’t care enough about me? Too lazy? Or maybe you’re a bit like me and you resent being prodded like a Pavlovian dog and decide you can handle the guilt of ignoring me, or some distant colleague, or long lost family member. You never needed to know my birthday before (nor I yours), and we all got on fine. And there’s the rub with FB. Where’s the limit? We know so much now about other people’s lives that in times past we never knew. And it was fine that we never knew. Wasn’t it?

Anyway, come May 26th 2016 I hope many of you ignore my reservations about all this and wish me well. And happy birthday to you for whenever yours may be :)

Monday, March 23, 2015

River - Fringe Review

Bakehouse Theatre’s Studio, Mon Feb 23
River is a loner, but she has crafted a busy enough life for herself.  She frequents a quiet caf├ęteria where she can be alone unnoticed. She has become something of a Google expert, specialising in writing “googlet’ poems based on what Google’s auto-complete function provides when you search for things. She sells self-made aluminium shapes at a weekend market. Her job doesn’t require her to talk to anyone, but she gets some joy from the human contact shared with her colleagues over packets of Arnotts cream biscuits. She relates the minutiae of her daily life in a way that is both touching and tedious.
Her luck begins to turn when she makes the acquaintance of Harry, an aged widower who frequents the same caf├ęteria and is looking for company.
Claire Lovering, the writer and performer of this one person show, has obviously spent a lot of time observing the old and lonely. There is a pathos in the details that her character shares with us, as we slowly learn that her whole life is based on masking the fact that she is alone. And Lovering does an excellent job of portraying this not quite sad and quirky character who is self-conscious, unsure, and excited by little things like chip sandwiches. Her friendship with Harry is short lived but he is the link in a chain that ultimately provides her with a new life where her warmth and care for others can be put to good use.
There’s a simplicity and a charm to this production that grows on you. It’s a poignant reminder that there are many who find it difficult to fit in. They want to be with people but they just don’t know how to do it. Happily in this case a lucky break helps a loner find their niche.
Left unsaid is the fact that many who are alone are not so lucky….
Quite moving in the end. It may well bring a tear of joy and/or sadness.

(also published on The Clothesline)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Meow Meow - Superb Cabaret

Royal Croquet Club’s Menagerie, Sun Feb 22
Meow Meow was a late entry into this year’s Fringe so you won’t find mention of her in the printed program. But do yourself a favour and find you way to The Menagerie at the Royal Croquet Club to see this superstar of cabaret.
I don’t normally borrow catch phrases from the reviews of others but ‘kamikaze cabaret’ is such an apt description of what she does. From the moment she involves the audience in making her opening entrance more spectacular you know you’re in for something different. Nothing is straightforward. Arranging the show as she goes – telling the tech crew to change the lighting, suggesting wardrobe changes for her accompanying pianist and drummer, getting the audience involved in ways you’ve never imagined – contributes to an edge of anticipation that keeps everyone on their toes.
Having played in some of the more prestigious venues around the planet she has a lot of fun making a mockery of ending up ‘in a tent on a roundabout’, and “having to do everything herself”. Like bringing her own dry ice blower! And her stand-in for when she needs a break is pretty impressive too. In short, Meow Meow is hilarious.
And if that isn’t enough she can sing like a bird, like a diva, like a child or a saddened lover… in multiple languages! To boot, most of her songs are her own original material. And she looked fantastic. Meow Meow is the complete package.
Superb comic timing, brilliant audience engagement, wonderful singer – a gifted performer who exemplifies the best of what cabaret can offer.

(also online on The Clothesline)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Dave Hughes at the Adelaide Fringe

The Garden Of Unearthly Delights’ Vagabond, Fri Feb 20

It seems a bit superfluous reviewing a Dave Hughes gig. He’s been around the Australian comedy scene a long time and just about everyone knows him. He’s looking good, and even though he has children in kindergarten there are a few grey hairs – something we learn his wife isn’t too rapt about!
He wasted no time tapping into the lives of people in the front row, and a steady stream of latecomers gave him plenty to work with for the first 20 minutes. All those who came late were offered the opportunity to say why they were late and who they blamed! And with the skill of a seasoned veteran he turned episodes of his last few weeks into funny stories that took pot shots at airlines, One Direction fans, and casual meetings with people around Adelaide.
The predictable blokey segment featured cricket tales, the rivalry between the local AFL football teams, his beloved Carlton, and drug-taking swimmers. Lots of jokes about being a dad and his relationship with his wife came next. Anyone who’s had kids can relate to the difficulties of finding time for ‘amorous action’. Clearly the Hughes household, with three children aged five and under (who Hughes refers to as the fun police) is a busy place and adult time is hard to come by, but it’s also a great source of comic material.
Unlike many interstate comedians who seem to deem it mandatory to bag Adelaide, he went the other way and kept telling us how much he liked it. An inside account of what it was like to work on Channel 10’s The Project was entertaining, as were his reasons for leaving the show.
Dave Hughes is a fine comedian. Refreshingly self-deprecating, much of his humour stems from his honesty about his shortcomings, and he appears to genuinely enjoy his work. He told us of course that we were the best audience he’d ever had. We liked hearing it, though we didn’t believe him for a minute. It was a good crowd though. The Vagabond was packed, and most of us were laughing most of the time.
Really enjoyable.
(Also published on The Clothesline)

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Philip Escoffey - Mentalist

Six Impossible Things Before Dinner

The Garden Of Unearthly Delights’ Umbrella Revolution, Tue Feb 17
The art of mentalism continues to be a regular feature on the Adelaide Fringe program, and Phillip Escoffey is back again after a hugely successful run at the 2011 Fringe. And if tonight’s show is any indication he’ll repeat the success this time around. And he deserves nothing less.

Escoffey is a consummate performer. Not only he dazzle his audience with an astounding array of mentalist ‘tricks’, but he also provides a humorous running commentary that is the equal of many A-list comedians. It all adds up to an immensely enjoyable experience.

As these kinds of shows dictate, the audience is a key part of the action. The appeal of a mentalist performance is watching them work out what the chosen members of the audience are thinking – what numbers they choose, which card, which seat, which page of a dictionary – all quite trivial details in the overall scheme of things. But what is far from trivial is how mentalists seem able to either guess what we’re thinking, or use some process of thought transfer to influence our choices.

At regular intervals Escoffey decries the notion that he’s psychic. So how can he know which card you’d pick from a closed deck of cards? Can he read minds? Put thoughts into your head? Or he is simply a clever and manipulative cheat? Or is it a combination of all of these?

A hilarious send up of Tarot card readers is priceless, and then is nonchantly followed up with a stunt where it appears that he is indeed able to predict the future!

So how can he so accurately predict what we are thinking? And do we need to know? Quoting Douglas Adams Escoffey asks: “Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful……?” For me it is. For others, this show will be the start of long conversation about whether he is indeed psychic or just a conman. The answer is far from clear.

It’s wonderful to have your preconceptions about reality profoundly challenged on your average night out ;)  Escoffey is an extraordinary talent. You will have a ball. Fantastic entertainment. World class.

(also published on The Clothesline)


Stuart Bowden – Before Us

Tuxedo Cat’s Perske Pavilion, Sun Feb 16


Just about everything Stuart Bowden does in Before Us is inappropriate. Not in any shocking way, or in any way that is embarrassing. Quite the opposite – it’s actually quite endearing. His costume, his dancing, a lot of his singing, the almost stream of consciousness monologue – all inappropriate. And the interesting thing is that when you string together a series of inappropriate activities you kind of get a new genre that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

Bowden enjoys talking about death, and this show is loosely built around the story of his father’s death, and our own mortality. Using live looped audio as a backdrop to his strange tales Bowden speaks for all those who have ever felt insecure or vulnerable; for all those who’ve contemplated the big questions about being alive. And dead. Like who were my parents? Why I am here?

He has a charming knack of using apparent nonsense to get us thinking and feeling more deeply about life. It was interesting to notice how the audience moved from behaving like they were at just another comedy show laughing and giggling at every weird quirk or throwaway line, to realising that that there was something deeper going on that was more enjoyable and more meaningful than just cheap laughs.

By then his naive charm and sense of magic had the audience under his spell and you felt the connection between the absurd and the profound, the beautiful and the mysterious - to the point where we were all quite prepared to join in the marvellous final scene and celebrate being alive!

Do something completely different this Fringe and surrender to Stuart Bowden’s spell of weirdness. You will laugh. You may even cry. But you will leave feeling better about life. This play is just a joy.

Star Rating: 4.5

(also published on The Clothesline)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Mush and Me

Mush and Me – Karla Chrome
Holden St Theatres’ The Arch, Sat Feb 14



Mush and Me was handpicked by Holden St Theatres to be part of their 2015 Fringe program, and it’s easy to see why. Gabby and Mush(taq) meet on neutral ground in an English call centre. The company’s star performers in telephone sales are drawn to each other as they observe each other in action. Their good natured competitive relationship quickly becomes social and despite the cultural and religious gap between them they find themselves falling love. 

Provoking and challenging each other about the foolishness of their respective beliefs just brings them closer, and the time arrives when they have to confront whether to announce their romance with their families. The scene that has both of them coming out to their families simultaneously is beautifully crafted. 

The difficulties of their cross-cultural relationship are a microcosm of what divides Arabic and Jewish culture. No matter how great their affection for each other layers of past hurt and suspicion complicate their present. ‘Enough of the past” Mush cries out to his mother - desperate for her to understand that not all Jews are wicked.

The obvious attraction between to the two protagonists is beautifully played by Daniella Isaacs  and Jaz Deol, and moments of passionate disagreement and anger typical of Middle Eastern discourse about ‘the problem’ are equally powerful.

A simple and effective set of white shelves displaying icons of both Muslim and Jewish culture are manoeuvred around the stage to accommodate the call centre, a bar, a hospital and lounge room, and at times has both actors pushing shelves together in the dark during scene changes that is neatly symbolic of them growing closer together.

Given the state of the world and the role of their respective cultures in global politics, this is a timely offering. We can enjoy the fact that at least two people have decided to ditch the hatred and pain of the past between their peoples and focus on their mutual love in the present. But we are left with no illusion that it will be an easy road for them.

A great play – excellent writing, well-paced, striking delivery and smart direction.

(Also published on The Clothesline)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Searchers

The Searchers
Her Majesty’s Theatre, Fri Feb 6


The Searchers’ concert was always going to be a walk down memory lane. First formed in 1959 and responsible for a half dozen or so mega hits in the Sixties, The Searchers are still performing to packed houses around the world fifty-five years on. The two remaining original Searchers, Frank Allen and John McNally are in their 70’s. That puts them in the elite category of veteran pop/rock stars who are still performing in the same band decades after they began. Another band that comes to mind in the same category and who also graced Australia’s shores recently are of course the Rolling Stones. But that’s about where the similarity ends.
The Searchers represent the state of pop/rock music before the likes of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones turned it and the rest of the world on its head. Neat, suited, and conservative, they stand and deliver that same engaging brand of poppy tune that catapulted them to pop fame, and in pretty much the same way. Not much rocking or wild cavorting around the stage here – just standing and delivering. And that is entirely appropriate for their style of music.
They play all their hits – the biggest of which arguably were Love Potion No 9 and Needles and Pins – and they still sound brilliant. There was also Walk in the Room, an acknowledged classic originally written and recorded by Jackie DeShannon but driven to international fame via The Searchers’ version. A curious thing about The Searchers is they didn’t write any of these songs. Occasionally songs were written for them, but most of their success came from songs written or recorded by others before The Searchers turned them into hits. And as good as these songs are there are probably around 6-8 gems all up. So the playlist for their two hour concert includes many cover tunes. Del Shannon’s Runaway, Buddy Holly’s (apparently spontaneous) Peggy Sue were obvious choices from their era. A kind of reverse acknowledgment of The Byrds and the role they played in preserving The Searchers’ legacy for another decade or so was the reason for the inclusion of Mr Tambourine Man. (The now famous signature ‘jingle jangle’ guitar tone of The Byrds was first created by John McNally, and The Byrds always acknowledged their debt to The Searchers as their own fame grew.)
A few numbers were clearly included to highlight and exploit the lovely voice of Spencer James – Roy Orbison’s Runnin’ Scared, Neil Sedaka’s Solitaire, and Bette Midler’s The Rose. But the inclusion of Young Girl, originally recorded by Gary Puckett and The Union Gap had me puzzled. I loved it when I was a child, but these days it has a few unfortunate undertones.
The voices of the two original Searchers are still in fine fettle. Sadly though there was a muddy tone to the mix much of the evening with the vocals too far down in the mix and for a band whose songs depend on multiple vocal parts this was really disappointing. Ironically the time when the three singers could be heard most clearly was not on a Searchers song – they sounded clear and pitch perfect as they sang The Rose.
Bass player Frank Allen chatted to the audience throughout the show, filling in bits and pieces of the band’s history, and explaining why each song was chosen. Audiences really appreciate this thoughtful kind of communication. But I found the constant jokes about aging, illness, dementia, etc a bit tiresome. As I’m a way short of 70 maybe it’s something I need to grow into (!) but I’d be pretty sure the Stones weren’t cracking jokes about nursing homes and dementia on their recent tour.
Still, it was great to see, be present, and hear live The Searchers’ contribution to the legacy of pop music. It’s a phenomenal achievement to be still doing live shows after 50 years. Testament to their importance in the history of pop is the fact that several Searchers songs will be remembered long after they finally hang up their guitars. An enjoyable night.

Also published at The Clothesline