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(Solid 60's Silver Show) Playhouse, Edinburgh, 24/2014
Now in its 29th year, the annual Solid Silver 60’s Show runs along similar principles as the original 60’s revue shows, featuring its same stars and usually four or five different acts on the bill. Inevitably old age and infirmity has had its toll. Reg Presley of the Troggs and Freddie Garrity of Freddie and the Dreamers, who were regulars on previous packages of the Solid Silver 60’s Show, are both now gone, and Wayne Fontana, who was booked to play this tour, has had to drop out because of health issues.
The four remaining acts are a diverse group. Vanity Fare, who appear first, had three UK Top 20 hits in 1968 and 1969, and a massive million-selling hit with ‘Hitchin’ a Ride’ in 1970 in the United States. Their harmonic pop is easy-on-the-ear, but hasn’t stood up well over the years and is largely instantly forgettable. As a backing band, they are, however, much stronger, providing solid support to most of the other acts on the bill.
A very sprightly 71, Californian Latin American Chris Montez looks like a man many years younger, and leaps around the stage like the nineteen year old that he was in 1962 when he had his biggest hit, the number two record ‘Love Me Do’. Curiously having escaped the passing of time almost entirely, Montez remains close to his early influences and convincingly throws in to his set some covers from his all time-hero, Ritchie Valens, including ‘La Bamba’ and ‘Donna’.
Headliners Brian Poole and the Tremeloes got back together in 2006 after a forty year absence, and in contrast seem determined to send themselves up for their elder statesmanship. All of the band, except for Poole who wears a British Legion-type jacket emblazoned with what looks like medals, turn up on stage in ill-fitting leather trousers and T-shirts. Singing drummer Dave Munden has injured his arm, and has Vanity Fare drummer Mark Ellen filling in for him. Looking frail and having trouble getting on and off a step on the stage, Munden stands at the front of it with Poole, trading insults and jokes with him about their age and finding themselves back on tour with each other after all of these years. Aware of the surreality of it all, they are hilarious, but any doubts that they and the other Tremeloes can’t still hold a harmony is quickly dispensed with, as they rattle through their hits which include their 1963 number one ‘Do You Love Me?’, ‘I Want Candy’ and a rabble-rousing ‘Twist and Shout’.
Best of all is the now 73 year old blues singer Chris Farlowe. Like Dave Munden, Farlowe has some problems with mobility, but his trademark roaring vocals are as strong and gritty as they ever were. More caustic in his humour than the other acts, he belligerently reminds the audience before launching into his 1967 ballad ‘Handbags and Glad Rags’, written by then Manfred Mann singer Mike d’Abo, that it was him, rather than Rod Stewart and the Stereophonics, who recorded it first. There is also a fine joke in which he reads from the back of the bottle of Scottish mineral water that he has brought up on the train with him from London that morning. “First manufactured over two thousand years ago,” he snaps. “Then why the bloody hell does it say that you have to drink it up within three says of opening it?” His 1966 number one hit ‘Out of Time’, which was originally written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, inevitably gets the largest round of applause from the audience, but equally impressive and passionately-sung are versions of Wilson Pickett’s soul classic ‘In the Midnight Hour’ and Ray Charles’ ‘Unchain My Heart’.
All the acts have revealed that they still have something to offer musically, even now fifty years on than heyday. What is most impressive is in their own ways the absolute elegance and grace with which they have done this.
Commenting On: (Solid 60's Silver Show) Playhouse, Edinburgh, 24/2014 - Chris Farlowe
ie London, England
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John Clarkson at the Playhouse in Edinburgh is impressed by the Solid Silver 60’s Show, which now in its 29th year features original 60's artists, and which included a strong set from blues legend Chris Farlowe
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