27th March 2019
Not really a Peter Noone concert here, but rather the former Herman's Hermit headlining the latest jaunt by The Solid Silver 60s Show. The other acts performing this time around were Vanity Fare, Dave Berry and Brian Poole. Would I have gone along to catch the show had Peter Noone not been on the bill? Probably not. Would I have attended had this been a Peter Noone solo concert? I rather think I may. So Peter Noone gets sole billing on my blog page.
Herman's Hermits were one of the first pop acts to creep into my musical consciousness back in the mid sixties, when I would spend my waking hours (and a few sleeping ones, if family tales are to believed) incessantly listening to Radio One on the lunch-box sized radio my Dad had given me.
There's a Kind of Hush – released in 1967 – is the oldest of the band's hits I have any clear recollection of hearing on Junior Choice. Apropos of nothing at all, I can also recall a naughty version of 1968's Sunshine Girl doing the rounds in the school playground.
The Hermits' lead singer, was the aforementioned Peter Noone – a endearingly youthful looking lad with prominent teeth and a blond mop-top – a bit like Rob Beckett, but with talent. Noone left the band in 1971, and settled in the US where HH, oddly, had always enjoyed more success than at home. His sole flirtation with the UK charts thereafter was a happy clappy rendition of David Bowie's chunk of Nietzschean nonsense Oh, You Pretty Things. Since which time he has pretty much made a career of performing his 60's hits.
|The Edinburgh Playhouse looked to be no more than a third full. But I think most folks enjoyed their evening nonetheless.|
This evening's show opened with a short set from Vanity Fare, who would additionally act as the backing band for the other acts on the bill.
As if often the way of things these days, none of the original Vanity Fare line-up actually remain in the current incarnation. Playing guitar and (occasionally succeeding in) handling the vocals was Eddie Wheeler who, to be fair (no pun intended), had been with the band since 1970. But he did not join until after the outfit had enjoyed their two biggest hits. Whilst the other long-timer, bassist Bernie Hagley has (only!) been around since 1980.
VF opened the show with one of their minor hits, I Live For the Sun; and Wheeler's piteous attempt at the vocal had the two biddies in the row in front of me staring at each other in horror. This could be a long evening, I feared. But thankfully, it transpired that the lad just needed this one song to warm up, for thereafter his vocal chords performed probably better than we had any right to expect from a chap of his vintage.
Like pretty much the whole of the rest of the audience I reacted with puzzled silence when asked if we remembered Early in the Morning. And, like most folks when it began, went “Ah, that one. I rather like that”. Vanity Fare's other biggie, Hitchin' a Ride (a US Top Five hit, I learned) has worn less well with time, I feel. It has a jaunty Beautiful Sunday/bubblegum songwriting/conveyor belt feel to it. Very much of its time.
|Bernie Hagley of Vanity Fare|
|Eddie Wheeler of Vanity Fare|
Vanity Fare set list
I Live for The Sun
Early in the Morning
Better By Far
Hitching a Ride
Brian Poole, as I am sure you all know, had been the original singer with The Tremeloes. He had quit the band in 1967, ostensibly to launch a solo career. It can hardly be said to have been a good career move however, for his former band mates kept the name and went on to enjoy a string of UK hits – including a Number One with Silence is Golden. Whilst Poole, by contrast was, within a few years making sausages in his brother's butchers shop.
He has been making a living since on the nostalgia circuit, and had just announced this tour would be his final one. But I would suggest this was probably one jaunt too far for the old chap. His voice just about passed muster on his first couple of tunes, but when he attempted some of the lyrical gymnastics required during his Chuck Berry medley, all the wrinkles were plain to see. The least said about Twist and Shout and Do You Love Me the better, perhaps.
Brian Poole set list
I Want Candy
Johnny B. Goode/Carol/Little Queenie/Bye Bye Johnnie
Twist and Shout
Do You Love Me
Dave Berry was next up, and I have to own up to, rather embarrassingly, having got my berries confused beforehand. I though I was going to get Mike Berry. Him from Are You Being Served and Worzel Gummidge, whom I knew had enjoyed a modest pop career during the 60s.
Instead we got Dave, who was actually very entertaining. The quality of his choice of covers certainly didn't hurt his cause. I Knew The Bride and Heart Full of Soul were particularly effective. And his rendition of the old Bee Gee's composition First of May received a well-deserved standing ovation.
Dave Berry set list
Rocking Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu
I Knew The Bride
Heart Full of Soul
First of May
Mr Noone, when he pitched up, was clearly a step up in quality from his co-stars. Not just his voice, which appeared to have lost little over the decades, but in the quality of his hits. And I had not realised quite how many the old Hermits had racked up, as familiar tune followed familiar tune: Something's Happening, Sleepy Joe, No Milk Today and the like.
And we were even presented with what must still be the most bizarre US Number One single ever: I'm Henry the VIII, I Am. I can only assume our transatlantic cousins were so in the thrall of Beatlemania at the time, that any old Brit nonsense was lapped up.
Peter Noone set list
I'm Into Something Good
Oh You Pretty Things
Take or Leave Your Loving
No Milk Today
End of the World
Can You Hear My Heart Beat
You've Got a Lovely Daughter, Mrs Brown
I'm Henry the VIII, I Am
A Kind of Hush
Encore (PN,DB & BP)
The Last Time
The fliers for the tour had featured the rather ominous tag-line “This Could be The Last Time”, which I had initially felt to be in slightly poor taste, given the Grim Reaper's relentless scything down of pop stars of yore. But, of course, it referred to the song performed as an encore by the whole ensemble.
|DB, PN & BP|
|This Could Be The Last Time.....|