Imagine Dante’s Inferno set in Butlins Holiday Camp, within the subdued palatial splendour of the countries most elegant performance venue, and you may perceive the incongruity of this night’s experience. It is a lovely venue hosting shows by music legends, but not all has survived completely intact.
First up were The Searchers, that is, half of them. Frank Allen co sang lead vocals on seminal hit When You Walk In the Room, guaranteeing him and his band a place in Bruce Springsteen’s heart, who claimed to have worn out his copy of this Pye 45.
Frank exudes the charisma of a pickled walnut preserved in Carnaby Beatwear, namely a black mod cut suit with pink tie, as worn by the rest of the band.
Undoubtedly rich in spirit and expertise, one timeless pop hit after another survived heavy rock blues guitar solos, “atmospheric” synth string intros, and chorused guitar treatments, presumably designed to update that which cannot date, ie the exultant melodies of a great pop record.
Ironic perhaps that as is so often the case, it is these modifications which quickly become dated themselves. The audience of 60 and 70 somethings seemed unperturbed and appreciative.
PJ Proby astonished me with his extremely kitsch, unironic performance which seemed close to surreal self parody.
At ear splitting volume with a lot of treble pant waving pensioners were treated to Merseybeat nuggets such as I Like It, How Do you do It, and Ferry Across The Mersey. Genuinely affecting, this magical song stood proud along with the really amazing You’ll Never Walk Alone, a song to unite human spirits if ever there were one. Almost all sections of the audience must have felt the inclusivity.