Archive for the ‘The Animals and Friends’ Category

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.