The Searchers Farewell Tour

Their sound is one that I’ve grown up hearing my parents play on their old turntable and one of my all-time favourite songs is ‘Don’t Throw Your love Away’, it’s in my top ten of all time best loved singles and would easily make it to my dessert island discs list! They may be a band who were formed in the late 50’s (20 something years before I was born!) but when I listen to their back catalogue of classic hits, I know I was born in the wrong era.

The Searchers topped the bill at the Sixties Gold Show which was one of the highlights of my reviewing calendar last year and it was there that they announced their intention to retire. I cried and it has taken me time to come to terms with the fact that they mean it! However, they’re going out with the biggest bang with almost all their tour venues sold out and limited seats remaining where tickets are still available.

Last night, at the Stafford Gatehouse Theatre, they played a 2 hour concert to a full house packed to the rafters with fans and it was glorious. The best atmosphere imaginable and I’m still buzzing now (and wishing I could beg a ticket to another gig before they wave goodbye on 31st March).

The Searchers have transcended decades and I’m not ready for them to retire yet!

The four-piece, is compiled of bass player Frank Allen who joined the band in 1964, Scott Ottoway who started drumming for them back in 2010, the extraordinary lead vocalist and guitarist Spencer James who has been with the band for over 33 years and the legendary John McNally who is the remaining founder member. I’m transfixed by the talent of all four of the boys, they’re exceptional musicians, however John McNally can’t help my draw my attention, especially when he plays the twelve string guitar. His witty retorts and banter with Frank Allen make for an entertaining evening too, in addition to their brilliant trademark sound and sing-a-long opportunities!

From popular hits such as ‘Walk In The Room’, ‘Sugar and Spice’, ‘Needles and Pins’ and ‘Don’t Throw Your Love Away’ to a couple of Buddy Holly tracks and a fantastic version of ‘Running Scared’, originally by the late great Roy Orbison – a concert from The Searchers is a real treat. I’m not ready for them to retire, I respect the fact that they feel it’s time, but that didn’t stop my bottom lip from wobbling once the final medley had been played.

There’ll never be another band like them, they’ve transcending decades and generations and will be missed by their peers and fans alike, I’m sure. If you can grab a ticket to see their final shows, you’ll not regret it, I promise. www.the-searchers.co.uk/dates

Spencer James from the band will be touring with a solo gig so make sure you buy your tickets for that, all the dates and venues are here: spencerjames.biz/spencer-james-solo-shows

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Sixties Gold Tour ~ Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Star rating: *****

Sixties Gold landed at Symphony Hall, Birmingham last night and it was an exceptional evening to bear witness to. As a number of amazing singers and instrumentalists who mostly made their names in the swinging sixties took to the stage to play their signature tunes and number one hits to an enthusiastic crowd. The venue was in the most part populated by the fans who heard these popular tracks the first time around, however there was a minority who grew up on the classic hits courtesy of their parents and I think and hope I speak for that cluster when I say that it was as glorious for us as it was for the longer term enthusiasts.

The Searchers

I was brought up on the songs that topped the charts in the fifties, sixties and seventies and one of my all-time favourite bands is The Searchers. I’ve seen them in concert on a previous occasion and they are still phenomenal, even though there’s a slightly altered line-up. Frank Allen and John McNally remain and they’re at the heart of what the band can produce. Their back catalogue of hits rocked Symphony Hall as they generously gave us the most thrilling finale to a wonderful evening of fantastic music. From ‘Sweets for My Sweet’ to ‘Don’t Throw Your Love Away’ and even a side-step towards Buddy Holly tracks, we were spoiled, truly spoiled. They’re retiring next year so be sure to catch their farewell tour, I expect it will be an epic farewell – and hopefully not really their final hoorah…

The Fortunes opened the show in style with the likes of ‘Here It Comes Again’ and ‘Storm in A Teacup’ delighting the audience. The temptation to be on my feet singing along from the very beginning was piqued! There’s no denying that the talent possessed by the plethora of musicians is boundless. Their energy is also quite extraordinary. Vanity Fare followed with one of my all-time favourite songs ‘Hitchin’ A Ride’ and they provided the backing for the legendary Steve Ellis, as soon as I heard the opening bars of ‘Bringing On Back The Good Times’ I was transported back to happy family memories. It wouldn’t have been a Steve Ellis set without ‘Everlasting Love’ and he also paid tribute to Small Faces. PJ Proby (also backed by Vanity Fare) who will be embarking  on a farewell tour ably continued the high standard of music, ‘There’s A Place For Us’ was a magical experience to behold. The Merseybeats were the first to really get the venue rocking and by the time they completed the set with ‘Hi Ho Silver Lining’ we were well and truly ready for the big finale. Their sound and banter was one of the highlights of the evening in my humble opinion.

The Merseybeats

I only wish I’d come along to one of these tours sooner, I will be talking about this for a long time to come and I can’t wait for next year’s – rumour has it that Herman’s Hermits are set to appear. Something tells me I’m into something good!

Check out the tour dates here: Sixties Gold Tour

Spotlight On… The Searchers

*** Spotlight On… The Searchers ***

The Searchers are recognisable for their many hits, including: Sweets for My Sweet, Sugar and Spice and When You Walk in the Room. They were a success in the 60’s and continue to be an exceedingly popular group, decades later. I interviewed frontman and original member, Frank Allen.

Copyright Brian Crump 2

How are you enjoying touring at the moment and are there any particular favourite venues of yours that you’ve played at or are due to go to?
We have always loved touring, still do and it`s been pretty continuous for the last five decades which is amazing. We are often asked if we get fed up with it. The travelling – yes. The performing – no.
Which song or song(s) gets the biggest reaction from the audience?
Without a doubt When You Walk In The Room. Not the biggest hit. It reached number three. But it has the most impact. A great Jackie DeShannon song with a terrific tune, and words that everyone sings along to.
Are there any numbers that you particularly favour playing?
Too many to pick an absolute favourite but one of our later album tracks, Somebody Told Me You Were Crying, is a beautiful tune and the lyrics are stunning and very emotional.
What sort of age range is your tour appealing to? Are you noticing some of the same faces returning again and again?
I always say our audience in the new millennium goes from incredibly young to fast approaching death, in the nicest possible way. We had our youngest audience member last year. A little lad called James who was nine months old and sat in the front row on his mother`s lap.
Is there a song recorded by another band that you wish you’d recorded?
Probably You’ve Got Your Troubles, a huge hit for The Fortunes. Apparently we were offered it and turned it down but no one can remember.
What is your advice for anyone wishing to enter into the music business?
Don`t believe your own publicity and play the music you enjoy rather than what the current trend might be. Originality is everything.

One of the local West Midlands venues that the band will be playing at this year is Huntingdon Hall in Worcester on 4th December, however all concert dates can be found on their website: http://www.the-searchers.co.uk/

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