Archive for the ‘Seekers’ Category

The Seekers The Sage Gateshead 10th May 2014

The Seekers The Sage Gateshead 10th May 2014
seekerstixI have already admitted to one guilty pleasure this week. Today, I am afraid, I am writing about yet another. Last night I relived part of my childhood. I went to see The Seekers on their 50th anniversary reunion tour, which called at the Sage Gateshead. Many years ago, when I was young, one of the first records I can remember getting was The Beatles “Help” album. It was Christmas 1965 and I was 9 years old. From then on I started to collect records, and bought lots of pop singles, graduating to more grown up stuff by the late 60s. But in the background to all that was my parent’s record collection and their choice of music. One of the people they played all the time was The Seekers. When the lp “Best of the Seekers” came out in 1968, my dad went out and bought it. He played that lp record again and again. Of course, by then I would scoff at the pure pop and folk harmonies, and I felt I was much too cool to listen to anything as “straight” as The Seekers. But secretly I liked some of those tunes and still do; “Georgy Girl” in particular is one of those songs which sticks in your brain and rumbles around and around, driving you mad. The Seekers split in the late 60s and I never got the chance to see them at the time. They reunited for the first time for their 25th anniversary and toured the UK in 1993 and 1994, calling at Newcastle City Hall. I foolishly missed that concert, and have regretted it ever since. So when it was announced that they were returning to the UK, for what is quite likely to be the last time, I decided to set coolness aside and go along and spend an evening with part of my childhood and those great harmless tunes. The tour had been delayed (The Seekers were originally due to play the Sage last September) because singer Judith Durham suffered a brain hemorrhage last May. The good news is that she is now fully recovered and able to tour again.
The show started with a video montage of The Seekers in the 60s, played to The Seekers’ cover of The Beatles “In My Life”. The four of them then walked onstage, to a loud and warm standing ovation from the audience. The Seekers are, as they were in the 60s, Athol Guy (double bass), Keith Potger (12 string guitar), Bruce Woodley (guitar) and Judith Durham (vocals). The stage set-up was simple with the four of them, their acoustic instruments, a drummer, a couple of keyboard players, and a large video screen. The show was in two parts, and was interspersed with video clips of the band back in their heyday and of the swinging 60s. Athol Guy did many of the introductions, telling little stories of their success. They are clearly very proud of what they achieved in those days, and lots of famous names were mentioned. For me the most impressive clip was taken from the NME Poll Winners concert, which was held at Wembley Empire Pool in 1966. The Seekers shared the bill with, among others, The Beatles; who were shown playing “I Feel Fine”; and the Stones; who were shown playing “The Last Time”. The Seekers were then introduced as “a new act who are playing their brand new single”; cue the group launching into “A World Of Our Own”. Another clip showed the band back in the 60s joking about whether they would still be together in 50 years time and then cutting to a shot of what they might look like if they were; and showing each member with grey hair, an ear trumpet, a bath chair; etc. You get the idea.
seekersprogI usually learn something new about the band when I go to a concert, and last night was no exception. I’d hadn’t realised how many people The Seekers had worked with; that they had written “Red Rubber Ball” with Paul Simon, and that they were friendly with Tom Paxton (sue “Last Thing on my Mind”). I sort of knew, but had forgotten, that most of their big hits were written by Tom Springfield of the Springfields, and brother of Dusty. And did you know that Tom Springfield wrote “Georgy Girl” with Carry On actor Jim Dale? Or that Bruce Woodley of the band wrote “I am Australian” which has joined “the ranks of other patriotic songs considered as alternatives to the Australian national anthem…is commonly taught in primary schools (Wikipedia)?
They played all the hits, keeping “Georgy Girl” to the end, and encoring with “The Carnival is Over”. I still can’t get away with the happy clappy gospel songs and cringed in my seat during those parts of the show, but I was also swept away with the nostalgia and emotion of hearing them play “I’ll Never Find Another You”, “A World of Our Own” and “Georgy Girl”. Oh and they didn’t play “Island of Dreams” (although the song was played over the PA during the interval (try the ginger ice cream)).
My final mention has to go to Judith Durham. I’ve seen many artists from the 60s in recent years. Some of them are ok, and some are shadows of their past selves. In many cases their voices have mellowed, changed, and they often can’t hit the notes in the same way as they could. Of all of them, this was the strongest vocal performance I have seen. Judith’s voice is as pure and clear as it ever has been.
An enjoyable evening. I thought I would be the youngest person there, but actually I wasn’t; the audience consisted of all ages, from young to old. It was of course very respectable, and I have to say, pretty uncool; I suppose. But then who is to say what is “cool”. My ears aren’t ringing this morning, and I wasn’t in fear of my life in any way last night, so maybe uncoolness is ok in some ways 🙂
Back to some rock bands for my writings for the rest of the week.
Set 1. Come the Day; I’ll Never Find Another You; A World of Our Own; Love Is Kind, Love Is Wine; The Water Is Wide; When Will the Good Apples Fall; Silver Threads And Golden Needles; Colours of My Life; Morningtown Ride; Just a Closer Walk With Thee; Myra; I Am Australian; Medley: This Little Light Of Mine/Open Up Them Pearly Gates/We Shall Not Be Moved.
Set 2. Someday One Day; When the Stars Begin to Fall; The Last Thing on My Mind; You’re My Spirit; Walk With Me; Guardian Angel/Guiding Light (Keith Potger solo); Louisiana Man (Keith Potger, Bruce Woodley & Athol Guy); The Olive Tree (Judith Durham solo); Red Rubber Ball; Georgy Girl; Keep a Dream in Your Pocket.
Encore: The Carnival Is Over.