The Searchers 50th Anniversary Tour, Leamington Royal Spa Centre

Reviewed by Helen and Garry McWilliams

Henry Murphy 2

Some music stands the ‘test of time’ and appeals to all generations, and in our experience music from the sixties does just that. In particular, ‘The Searchers’ have maintained a loyal fan base, continuing to perform widely around the UK and have also recently returned from touring Australia. Their popularity is unquestionable and courtesy of familiar hit songs coupled with great humour – we had a superb ‘party’ with the band last night.

The line-up has changed since the early days although it still includes John McNally, one of the original members and Frank Allen (see Helen’s interview who joined the band a few years into their run of success. Guitarist and vocalist Spencer James has been a regular for the past 27 years and their recent addition is Scott Ottoway who has played the drums with ‘The Searchers’ for three years, now. Ottoway is an incredible drummer and suits this genre of music extremely well, James has a powerful voice which lends itself to all styles and the two stalwarts; Allen and McNally are still amazing performers. They are both charismatic and to watch them play guitar is akin to a master-class.

Almost the entire back catalogue of famous songs that we remember listening to (while growing up in houses with parents who were in their teens/early twenties in the sixties) were in the set and we both sang along to every number (to the amazement of some of the patrons that have followed the band for years). If we closed our eyes we felt as though we had been transported back to ‘the day’ and it reaffirmed our theory that we were born in the wrong era. ‘Sweets for My Sweet’, ‘Sugar and Spice’, ‘Don’t Throw Your Love Away’, ‘Needles and Pins’ and ‘Every Time That You Walk In The Room’ filled the auditorium and were all met with delighted reactions. Also included were hit tunes from other great artists who are sadly no longer with us (as John McNally reminded us in the most humourous way possible, considering!). ‘Running Scared’ which was originally recorded by Roy Orbison was a favourite for us and Spencer James surpassed himself – the lighting effects were spot on too, building with the song as it crescendos.

The banter between Frank Allen and John McNally is definitely a highlight of the show, McNally is extremely quick-witted and some of Allen’s jokes had the audience in fits of laughter. It’s already a feel-good concert with so many opportunities to join in with the band and we were all up and dancing by the end of the second half – but the humour is an important factor too. We all enjoyed a good boogie to a medley of their greatest hits as well as ‘Twist and Shout’ and the finale topped off with ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. The boys have a show that will put a smile on your face and leave you wanting more, surely the sign of a great night out. They are joining up with other artists (Gerry & The Pacemakers, P.J. Proby and The Fortunes to name a few) for a ‘Sixties Gold’ concert later in the year (we have our tickets already!) so look out for that as well as their other solo tour dates at


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