Archive for the ‘P J Proby’ Category

60s Gold Tour Sage Gateshead 17 November 2021

60s tixSome time ago I promised myself I would never again go to a 60s show. Too cheesy. Too embarrassing. Too many people dancing around in an unbecoming manner! However this one tempted me for several reasons. Firstly it featured my hero PJ Proby. Secondly I always fancied seeing Marmalade. I have a vague memory of seeing them at Sunderland Top Rank in the early 70s when they were out of the charts and the place was empty. But it is very vague and I can’t be certain I was actually there! And yes I realise there is no original member in the band from their heyday when they had their big hits such as “Reflections of My Life” and “Lovin’ Things” but Sandy Newman has been a member of Marmalade since the mid-70s and featured on their last big hit “Falling Apart at the Seams”. And thirdly the show featured another hero of mine, Steve Ellis. Now Steve Ellis has sadly had to pull out of the tour due to ill-health. I hope he’s soon better. Still the line-up remained strong.

60s progWhen I was a kid, around 11 or 12 years old I would go to the Saturday morning disco at Sunderland Top Rank. It was 1967 or 1968 and my heroes were Steve Marriott, Steve Ellis and Barry Ryan. I had a pair of black checky hipster trousers and a black plastic belt which was very wide and had two metal prongs as a fastener. You bought the belts at Woolworths as I recall. The hipster trousers were made of very rough material and were quite itchy to the skin. I also wore a Paisley shirt with button-down collar made by “Rave” which was the make of the day and you bought them at Binns. Of course, I also wore a vintage kipper tie. I felt I was a young mod and would parade around the walkway which circled the ballroom eating my iced drink, called a Slush. I would even dance sometimes! I often think those were some of my happiest days. One of the records I loved was “Lovin’ Things” by Marmalade. I used to gaze at young girls my own age but didn’t dare talk to any!

And so I went along to the 60s show with mixed feelings. Would I enjoy it? Or was it going to be a cheesy letdown? And I also had in my mind the question “when is a band no longer a band?” After all, some of the bands (I should call them groups, as we did in the 60s) featured only one, or in some cases no, original members.

Introduction: 7.30pm. The compere for the evening was DJ Ally Pally, whom I have seen before fulfilling a similar role in another 60s Gold concert at Newcastle Tyne Theatre a few years ago. His job was to introduce each of the acts, and he did so well. I was accompanied by carer Jackie and my sister-in-lawjerrys p 1 Elaine who was, for the evening, my guest rather than a carer. She was sitting separately from us as we bought her ticket later. However, she was able to come over and join us later on. 

Gerry’s Pacemakers: 7.33pm. First up was Gerry’s Pacemakers. This consisted of the late Gerry Marsden’s backing band, including his musical director for the last 25 years, and a new singer. They sang a number of Gerry’s hits including “How Do You Do”, “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying” (one of my favourite songs of all time), “Ferry Cross the Mersey” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. Good versions of great songs and a nice introduction to the evening.

Dave Berry: 7.45pm. Next, a white glove appeared from behind the curtain and the legend that is Dave Berry shuffled onto the stage, his hands shielding his face. He was, of course, famous for those strange spooky hand mannerisms dave ber 1which continued throughout his set. He sang a few of his hits including “Memphis Tennessee”, “Mama” and my favourite “The Crying Game” with its wonderful Wah Wah guitar. The guitarist did a reasonable version of the original guitar sounds and solos, which were performed by either Jimmy Page or Big Jim Sullivan (great session man who went on to become Tom Jones guitarist on his TV show). The truth of who played on the single seems to be lost in the depths of time. Whoever it was they did a wonderful job. Dave Berry is 80 years old and looks, and sounds, just fine. Excellent.

Mamas & Papas UK: 7.57pm. The Mamas and Papas UK are simply a cover band who did fair versions of the band’s greatest hits including “Creeque Alley”, “Monday Monday” and “California Dreaming”. Greatmamas 1 songs which still sound good today. Strangely the band also included the singer from Gerry’s Pacemakers! Then came my hero!

PJ Proby: 8.10pm. Now this is THE MAN. The uncompromising, unflinching, outspoken, politically incorrect, but great, legend that is the 83-year-old PJ Proby. Still in strong voice and looking very healthypj 1 and stylish with longish white hair and full beard, he belted out his hits including “Somewhere”, “Hold Me” and “Maria”. PJ sat down for some of the performance but also managed some dancing with his saxophone player! The man is a hero of mine and continues to astound with his vocal histrionics and his melodramatic, but wonderful, rendition of classic ballads from musicals. Proby, and all the other acts before him, were backed by Gerry’s Pacemakers. Then things moved up a gear.

Marmalade: 8.23pm.  This version of Marmalade is fronted by Sandy Newman who has taken on the lead role that was formally Dean Ford’s. Sandy has been in the band since the mid-marm 170s and featured on their last big hit record “Falling Apart at the Seams”. I first saw Sandy at the Grangemouth pop festival in 1972. He was second on the bill, after Billy Connolly, and fronting the Chris McLure Section. The stage cleared for Marmalade who are a truly professional act and moved the whole show up a notch. Great versions of classic songs followed: “Wait for Me Marianne”, “Lovin’ Things” (in my mind I was 12 again and back in the Top Rank Suite in my hipsters), “Rainbow”, “Reflections of My Life” and their cover of the Beatles song, which got them a big hit and up to number one in the charts “Ob La Di, Ob La Da”. An excellent close to the first half of the show, and a long time wish of mine fulfilled; to see Marmalade!

Interval: 8.45pm. Time for a nice cool gin and tonic. Elaine came across and had a chat, taking up an empty seat beside Jackie and me. We all agreed the show so far was just great!

Vanity Fare: 9.05pm. Vanity Fare opened the second half of the show with the hits “Hitchin’ a Ride”, vanity 1“Early in the Morning” (their biggest hit) and “I Live for the Sun”. This is an example of a band which doesn’t include any original members; however it does include some long-standing members who have been with the band for many years). They reopened the proceedings well and were good fun.

Herman’s Hermits: 9.20pm. Herman’s Hermits contain the original drummer, hermans 1Barry Whitwam, who has been in the band since its inception. The band members have gradually retired over the years and Peter Noone left in the early 70s. Now the musicians who surround Barry have been with him for many years and did great versions of wonderful pop classics including “No Milk Today”, “Sunshine Girl” and “There’s a Kind of Hush”. Barry Whitwam came to the front and explained how the band had sold 80 million records and told the tale of how they once had the great privilege of meeting Elvis Presley. I have seen this version of the Hermits before and they always put on a great performance. You can’t go wrong with hits like that.

The Tremeloes: 9.42pm. And now a big surprise. This version of the Tremeloes was to be fronted by none other than bass player and singer Chip Hawkes. However we were told by Ally Pally that Chip had been taken unwell at the start of the tour and had to drop out. I hope you are soon better, Chip. He was chesney 1replaced by none other than his son, the “One and Only” Chesney Hawkes. Fantastic! Chesney is a consummate performer and took the show up a level again. He led the band, which also features his brother on drums and Chip’s 15-year-old grandson on guitar plus a couple of other members (one of whom was from Vanity Fare!) through all those classics good time hits: “Even the Bad Times Are Good”, “Here Comes My Baby”, and “My Little Lady”. In the case of the latter song, Chesney explained how his dad met his mum on the Golden Shot TV show in the 60s (his mum was one of the lovely girl presenters on the show) and that he wrote the song about her; they have been married for 54 years! The “Tremeloes” continued with more hits closing with an a cappella version of the smash “Silence Is Golden”. Just wonderful. Was this really the Tremeloes? Or Chesney Hawkes and family singing the Tremeloes? Who cares. It was just great. We all agreed it had been a wonderful night.

 Concert finish: 10.20pm. Our taxi driver was waiting for us and we were soon on our way home, still excited about the appearance of Chesney Hawkes (who was now our hero) and we told the taxi driver all about it. A great night reliving some wonderful memories with some classic pop songs from the 60s. When is a band no longer a band? Who cares?!

60s Gold Show The Sage Gateshead 31 Oct 2012

60s Gold Show The Sage Gateshead 31 Oct 2012
Steve Ellis, The Animals, P J Proby, Gerry and the Pacemakers
I’m not a big fan of 60s shows. They tend to be a bit too cabaret for me, but this line up was so strong I just couldn’t miss it. This time the 60s Gold tour featured two of my favourite artists: Steve Ellis and P J Proby. I’ve blogged about P J before and have the greatest respect for the man; his voice is astounding and he is one of the best performers I have ever seen. But tonight I was particularly looking forward to seeing Steve Ellis who I haven’t see since the 70s when he fronted Widowmaker, along with Ariel Bender. To me Steve is still the cheeky young cocky cockney mod who exploded on my TV screen on Top of the Pops and blew me away with his performance of Everlasting Love in Love Affair all those years ago.
The show was introduced by compere Ally Bally (told you these shows are cabaret) and Steve Ellis was first up, backed by The Pacemakers. Steve looks great; from where I was sitting I swear he looked no different to how he did in the 60s. He still sports some pretty sharp gear, very much the mod, and his vocals were really strong. His performance was great, but I felt he could deliver so much more. He has one of the best soul voices, and commands respect for keeping the mod flag flying. I’d love to see him do a full set, as I know he performs soul classics as well as the Love Affair hits. For me, Steve Ellis is up there with Steve Marriott, and other 60s mod legends. Setlist: Day without love; Bringing on back the good times; All or nothing (dedicated to Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane); a version of The Beatles’ Please please me which was performed as a slow ballad; Rainbow valley; Everlasting love.
Ally Bally returned to tell us some facts about 1963, such as our favourite TV show at the time was Steptoe and Son. He then introduced The Animals. I’ve seen this version of the band a few times now and they do a very respectable job of playing the old hits. The band features original drummer John Steel and keyboard player Micky Gallagher who replaced Alan Price in 1965. Singer and frontman Peter Barton has a deep voice which sounds a lot like Eric Burdon and does justice to the songs. Setlist: Baby let me take you home; It’s my life; I put a spell on you; Bring it on home to me; Don’t bring me down; Don’t let me be misunderstood; We’ve gotta get out of this place; House of the rising sun. After the interval it was P J Proby’s turn to take the stage. P J always puts on a strong show, and tonight was no exception. He was backed by the Pacemakers, along with a sax player. Setlist: Price of love; My love; Hold me; Three steps to heaven; If I can dream; The night has a thousand eyes; Somewhere. Ally Pally then returned with more facts from 1963. Did you know that Dr Who first appeared on our TV screens during that year? Or that a new Ford Cortina would cost you £670? As I said earlier, I’d come along largely to see Steve and P J, but was pleasantly surprised by Gerry Marsden. I’ve seem him once before on a 60s show, around 20 years ago, and also enjoyed him on that occasion. He really is a total pro, and his old hits still sound good. Setlist: How do you do; I’m the one; The way you look tonight; It’s gonna be alright; The rose (the Bette Midler song); Midnight hour (sung by the bass player); I like it; Don’t let the sun catch you crying (just beautiful; a classic and one of my all time favourite songs); Shot of Rhythm and blues; Ferry cross the mersey; You’ll never walk alone (lots of crowd singing along, and arm swaying). All in all this was a good evening with some top class performers, who still know how to entertain. And Steve the mod is still a cool guy. On my way out I bought a great psych/mod repro poster from a 60s Love Affair gig, and signed by Steve for £7. Bargain!

P J Proby Sunderland Empire 3 Feb 2011

One Night of Elvis with Lee Memphis King & P J Proby Sunderland Empire 3 Feb 2011
This was an Elvis tribute show starring a guy called Lee Memphis King. I wouldn’t normally choosie to go along to an Elvis show; however the added attraction of my old hero P J Proby as special guest tempted me. Marie also (somewhat suprisingly) quite fancied coming and went along to the Empire theatre and bought two tickets for the show.
Come the night we took our seats in the circle of the Empire. The theatre was by no means full, but a respectably sized crowd of Elvis (and P J Proby?) fans had turned out on a very wet and windy night to see the show. The show started with a few songs from the main attraction Lee Memphis King who does a pretty mean Elvis impersonation. He soon introduced P J Proby who came on stage to a great reception from the crowd. P J has, of course, been in the press of late because of his legal problems relating to benefit claims, which he mentioned a couple of times, laughing it off as a joke. He performed a series of Elvis songs including Are you Lonesome Tonight, How great though art and Lawdy Miss Claudy. His voice is still good, but didn’t sound as strong as last time I saw him a few years ago. To be honest I don’t think P J was on top form, forgetting his words to one song and having to start it again. Still it was good to see the great man again; you have to admire him for still going out there are treading the boards at his age (he’s 72).
Marie and I beat a retreat to a local hostelry at the interval (sorry Lee Memphis).



P J Proby South Shields Customs House

P J Proby

South Shields Customs House 27 March 2008

P J Proby is the man. Always has been, always will be. It may not be cool to like him these days, and it probably never was, but he has a voice like no other.  Over the years I’ve been to see many great male rock singers: Robert Plant, Paul Rodgers, Joe Cocker, Stevie Marriot, Terry Reid, Arthur Brown, Frankie Miller, Long John Baldry, Rod Stewart, Chris Farlowe ; but to me P J Proby stands apart from all them. This guy has no fear; go to youtube and watch some of those old videos of him in the 60s and you’ll see what I mean.

Its great to see that he’s still going strong and out there. In fact he’s playing more in the UK now than he ever did since the 60s. He out there playing at local theatres and on some 60s package tours but he’s still much more than a revival act.

Norm and I went along to the Customs House which is a smallish (4oo seat) theatre in South Shields to see P J.  We arrived just as he had taken the stage; the place was packed and everyone was already up on their feet. The set was a mixture of ballads, Elvis and Johnny Cash songs; and his own hits from the 60s.

The Johnny Cash set saw P J singing Jackson and Daddy Sang Bass along with his wife. His version of Elvis’ American Trilogy has to be seen to be believed and he still manages to hit all the notes in Maria. Finished off with Hold Me which is still a great rock song, and leaves the crowd screaming for more.

You could buy a DVD of the show from the merchandise stall straight after the show. I settled for a signed magazine with a great write up about Proby’s wild life. A great night; if you get the chance to go and see this guy; do it; you won’t be disappointed.



signed magazine

signed magazine