The Searchers Whitley Bay Playhouse 18 May 2023

search tix60 years on and you can’t keep a good band, like The Searchers, down. As Frank Allen explained they intended to retire but after a year or more of DIY, painting and gardening he and founder member John McNally were getting bored. Frank phoned John and said “do you fancy playing again?” John quickly admitted that he too missed the shows and the audience. And so this “thank you”/farewell tour emerged. And a packed Whitley Bay Playhouse audience were glad they did so. These guys are 100% professionals. No need for any support act. With all the hits, covers of favourite songs and album tracks, they can easily fill two sets with a short interval in between.

search4These are the songs of my childhood and youth. Yes this band may not be 100% “cool” but hey who can forget the jangle of “Needles and Pins” or the thumping bass of “When You Walk in the Room”? Pure 1960s pop classics. By the way, check out the originals by Jackie De Shannon (there are some great videos of her performing the songs on YouTube). John McNally, now 81 (wow!) still plays a mean 12 string Rickenbacker and Frank Allen, new boy to the band (he joined in 1964 and is 79 years young) is the consummate front man. “New Comer” Spencer James who joined in 1986 takes the honours in singing lead vocal on most of the songs. And a great job he does too.

serch progWe arrive in time to buy a couple of programmes, one for me and one for my friend John in the USA, a T-shirt and a fridge magnet for my eldest daughter who loves to collect small memorabilia, a double whiskey to get me in the mood and quickly to our seats down the front. They start, well right back to the start with “Sweets for My Sweet” and the wonderful “Don’t Throw Your Love Away” and then John gets a chance to really jingle jangle his 12 string on the Byrds/Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man”. More hits follow including another favourite of mine “What Have They Done to the Rain?” followed by “Goodbye My Love” a great version of Del Shannon’s “Runaway” and “Someday We’re Gonna Love Again”. Yes they did have loads of hits during the period 1963 – 1966. They close the first half by returning to their roots and covers of “Peggy Sue”, “Oh, Boy!” and “Running Scared”.

search2The interval allows time for a lovely Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and more hits and covers: “Ain’t Gonna Kiss Ya”, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone”; back to the start again with “Sugar and Spice” and another favourite of mine that I have on an EP somewhere “Love Potion No. 9”. A few more covers and they close with “Needles and Pins” and “When You Walk in the Room”, followed by their version of the Isley’s “Twist and Shout”. Finally we get a medley of all the hits together: “Sweets for My Sweet; Don’t Throw Your Love Away; When You Walk in the Room; Love Potion No.9; Sugar and Spice; Needles and Pins”. That’s it. Will it be the last time. I suspect not.

serach1Music and performing is in the blood of these guys. They just can’t stop. If you told me when I was 15 that at 66 I would be watching a band of “pop” stars in their 80s still singing their hits I would have said you are crazy. But hey why not. It’s all good fun. Happy days. “I saw her today, I saw her face, it was a face I loved, and I knew I just had to run away, and get down on my knees and pray, but then they begin….” You just can’t beat it. Pure magic.

Setlist: First set: Sweets for My Sweet; Don’t Throw Your Love Away; Mr. Tambourine Man; Take Me for What I’m Worth; What Have They Done to the Rain?;  Goodbye My Love; Runaway; Hearts in Her Eyes; Farmer John; Someday We’re Gonna Love Again; Bumble Bee; Peggy Sue; Oh, Boy!; Running Scared; Seven Nights to Rock.

search3Second set:  Ain’t Gonna Kiss Ya; All My Sorrows ; Where Have All the Flowers Gone; Sugar and Spice; Somebody Told Me You Were Crying; Love Potion No. 9; Four Strong Winds; Have You Ever Loved Somebody?; The Rose; Young Girl; Needles and Pins; When You Walk in the Room; Twist and Shout; Medley of Sweets for My Sweet; Don’t Throw Your Love Away; When You Walk in the Room; Love Potion No.9; Sugar and Spice; Needles and Pins.

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by LESLEY Patricia GRIFFIN on May 21, 2023 at 6:56 pm

    Sounds like a fab night you had. It reminds me of a trip we had to the Cavern Club back in 2017 ….. a real trip down memory lane after I blagged my way in!


  2. Sounds excellent! Last time I ‘saw’ The Searchers, they were having cups of tea in the cafe of the supermarket in Darlington I was working in during the school holidays in the year England won the World Cup! 🙂 (The supermarket’s no longer there but the Searchers are. A strange old world!!)


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