The Animals and Friends Whitley Bay Playhouse 12 March 2022

animals 4So my question for today is: When Is a Band No Longer a Band? In the case of The Animals and Friends, the only original member is long-standing drummer, John Steel, who at the age of 81 has assembled a band of fine musicians around him to play all The Animals hits. “Though the band has changed, the songs remain eternal… alongside covers of Ray Charles and John Lee Hooker classics, they ensure that the nostalgic element comes with an enjoyably abrasive edge”. (From the bands website).

This tour is billed as their farewell concert tour, and if so, this may be the last time that John and his friends have performed in a local “home” venue. Support was provided by another legend from the 60s, Zoot Money.

Now I have to admit to being a massive fan of Eric Burdon; I think he is one of the greatest vocalists ever and have been to see him every chance I can including a performance at Newcastle City Hall a few years ago. Eric performs with his own band, sometimes called The Animals, which has changed over the years. He remains a fine blues singer and his performances are always excellent. He does not grace these shores very often, which is a shame. So I was interested to see this performance by John Steel and his “friends”.

animals 3I was perched at the back of the hall again, as I was for Fairport Convention a week or so ago. The view is great and the venue was around ¾ full. First up, at around 7:30 PM, was Zoot Money who performed a fine set of rhythm and blues, solo on keyboards and vocals. His set was short, but warmed up the crowd well. He finished shortly after 8 PM which gave me time to have a swift pint of Guinness during the interval.

The Animals and Friends took to the stage around 8:30 PM and treated us to just over one hour of classic songs from back in the 60s.

animals 2I can’t quite recall the full set, but I seem to remember that they started with “Don’t Bring Me Down” and played a set of Animals hits and other R&B classics including “I’m Crying”, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”, “It’s My Life” and “Club A Go Go”(written about the legendary 60s Newcastle club where all the greats played including Cream, Jimi Hendrix and, of course, The Animals). They closed the set with “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place”. John Steel then came to front of stage and explained how he had been in the band since it first formed in 1957! He then introduced the encore which was, of course, “House of the Rising Sun”. Finally, he welcomed Zoot Money back on stage to join the band to play Zoot’s 1960s hit “Big Time Operator”, which reached number 25 in the UK charts in 1966.

animals1The concert finished around 9:40 PM. Quite an early finish time these days. The band played well. John has assembled a fine set of musicians around him who do full justice to The Animals classic 60s tracks. The front man, Danny Handley , is to be applauded for both playing excellent guitar and singing strong vocals on all the songs. I can’t quite bring myself to say that his vocals matched Eric Burdon but, hey, he came pretty damn close. So it was a very pleasant evening spent listening to some of my all-time favourite songs. After the show the band and Zoot Money were signing CDs in the foyer. I decided to purchase a fine pair of John Steel drumsticks which he kindly signed personally and in front of me; one dedicated to me and the other dedicated to my friend John in the USA who came to see so many shows with me in the 1970s.

animals 5So, returning to my original question: When Is a Band No Longer a Band? My answer is thus. Does it matter? As long as they play good versions of great songs and I have an enjoyable evening, then it is certainly worthwhile going to see them. John and his friends have managed to retain the gritty Newcastle soul of The Animals and in doing so present a show that lives up to the bands legend. A great night.

Interestingly, I found the following on Wikipedia: “In 2008, an adjudicator determined that original Animals drummer John Steel owned “the Animals” name in the UK because of a trademark registration that Steel had filed. Eric Burdon had objected to the trademark registration, arguing that he personally embodied any goodwill associated with “the Animals” name. Burdon’s argument was rejected, in part because he had billed himself as “Eric Burdon and the Animals” as early as 1967, thus separating the goodwill associated with his own name from that of the band. On 9 September 2013, Burdon’s appeal was allowed, and he is now permitted to use the name “the Animals.””

Many thanks to Vikki my carer and photographer for the evening and Chris for once again helping put me back to bed.

18 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by John Madden on March 16, 2022 at 4:32 pm

    What a fine review. Very thoughtful and sincere. You are obviously a big fan. I’m not much of an Animals fan myself but will certainly check out their back catalogue. Cheers


  2. Posted by Peter Maggiore on March 16, 2022 at 4:37 pm

    Hi mate. Sounded like a good night. It got me reminiscing to 1976 and the City Hall when Eric Bloom of Blue Oyster Cult dedicated WGGOOOP to Eric Burden. The recording is on their live album Some Enchanted Evening. A great memory from my ever distant youth.


    • Posted by vintagerock on March 17, 2022 at 1:03 pm

      Great to hear from you as always Peter. The Animals are still good, even without Eric. Happy days. Pass my best wishes to Ian as always. Peter


  3. Posted by Roy Stevenson on March 16, 2022 at 5:14 pm

    I had the pleasure of working with Hilton Valentine & John Steel back in the day when they did a private gig in my hometown, also had the pleasure of drinking with them till very late back at their hotel, listening to some tales from way back when, they were good then. Very good revue there sir.


    • Posted by vintagerock on March 17, 2022 at 1:01 pm

      Many thanks for your memories Roy. John Steel comes over as a really nice genuine man. Glad you enjoyed my review Peter


  4. Posted by Les on March 16, 2022 at 9:41 pm

    Thanks for the review Peter. I can also say I’m not much of an Animals fan, but there is always something of interest in your reviews…and that Guinness put me in the mood for a beer…so I had one!


  5. Nice review (as always). I saw the ‘Animals and Friends’ line up a few times at the majestic Colne Blues Festival during the 2000s and they were always very good. (Their then bassist was a band manager who helped organise the festival so they always played.) Was Mick Gallagher with them on keyboards? You don;t say but he’s still listed as a member and he was the guy who took over from Alan Price when Price left the band unexpectedly a day or two before a Swedish (I think) tour in 1965. Very close to original! 🙂

    Had the good luck to see them with Steve Cropper the last time I saw them (2008). Maggie Bell was opening the evening session. Had my son (then 28) with me and he’d not heard (or not remembered when I’d spoken of them over the years!!) of the bands/artists and he came away saying that it had been the best concert he’d ever been to. He knew every song and was staggered by the musicianship.

    I enjoyed being an educator!! 🙂


    • Posted by vintagerock on March 17, 2022 at 12:55 pm

      Hi Alistair no Mick Gallagher is no longer with the band; not sure why. I also couldn’t find listed the name of the new keyboard player, who was quite good actually. Yes I have seen them with Steve Cropper before and he was excellent. The great Maggie Bell was listed as support for this concert but was replaced by Zoot Money at the last-minute. Not sure why. Still a great evening. Best wishes Peter


  6. Sounds like a fabulous occasion. Happy memories of boogieing to TIAHINO from my mis spent youth. I hear you regarding music and band line ups. I always think of myself as a purist, but….


    • Posted by vintagerock on March 20, 2022 at 12:22 pm

      Hi yes. We have to take what chances we can get these days. Happy days Peter


      • Dear Peter
        Um, you seem to have seen everyone in 50 yrs. I have signed up. I have a, er a few posts to read! I would welcome yr email. My best wishes and grateful thanks to you, wow!



      • Posted by vintagerock on March 20, 2022 at 2:32 pm

        Welcome to my blog Ned. Pleased that you like it! Cheers Peter

  7. Posted by Tony Grey on March 20, 2022 at 9:47 pm

    Hi Peter,
    Interesting question, when is a band no longer a band? Almost every band I’ve seen recently is down to one or two original members, in the case of Dr Feelgood- no original members!
    The last gig I was at, Man, just had the one original member too, Martin Ace on bass, but what an incredible set they played, brilliant guitar work & really tight rhythm section. If they ever get up to the NE I highly recommend going to see them.
    Anyway thanks for the review & for getting me thinking.


    • Posted by vintagerock on March 21, 2022 at 12:33 pm

      Hi Tony I would love to see Man again. The last time I saw them was in Leeds which is the last time they came anywhere close to here. There remain a fantastic band. Happy days Peter


  8. Posted by John Moses on March 22, 2022 at 10:46 am

    Hi Peter,

    It is interesting to know that there has been a quibble over the Animals name, which is a bit of shame. ‘The Animals is Here’ was the first EP I bought and is still a classic record for my money. I always thought Eric Burdon was the main stay of the Animals along with Alan Price. But it is really nice to know they are still touring. Thanks for this write up.



    • Posted by vintagerock on March 22, 2022 at 10:53 am

      Yes John it is always a shame when bands fall out and wrangle over names. Sadly it is a fact of life. I take the view now, take my chances while I can to see any original members of any classic bands and experience their music performed live while I still can and they still can. Hope you are keeping well Happy days Peter


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