Hermits Come Out To Play

Herman’s Hermits

Theatre Severn


There’s a funny old tale about a worker who had had the same sweeping brush since he started in the job Fifty years ago. The punchline goes I have only had three new heads and four new handles! One finds that with a lot with Sixties and Seventies Bands. It happens by natural wastage or splits, artistic differences or for whatever reason but it is rare that one gets any of the originals. Well Herman’s Hermits  over the years have faced several personell changes but they still still pack their only ever Drummer, Barry Whitwam. They still sound great and their lead singer, Geoff Foot has been with them since Nineteen Seventy One so he would count as an original member. Flanked by new boys, Lead guitars and backing vocalist Ray Frost and keyboard wizard and vocal angel Tony Hancox. I say new boys, but they are of course not. This is a great, tight team and the music they play is fantastic.

Blasting their way through the catalogue without too much waffle the music was interspersed with genuinely interesting stories about the people they met and played music with back in those crazy Sixties. One was struck with this thought, if you had told those four lads back in the day, that one day they would be playing to an audience with an average age of Seventy years they would have laughed in your face because as Daltry summed up the sentiment of the age, “I hope I die before I get old.”  Well it was a daft policy then and it is now; such a shame so many from that time did make sure that happened. None of that madness amongst these guys: They are the responsible custodians of not just great tunes and music but keepers of tales and anecdotes too. All that offers up a great social history and an understanding of our time when we as people changed for the better.

That said let’s look at the night as a whole. It was a truly great night with wonderful guitar skills from Ray and Geoff, sublime keyboards and expert vocals from Tony, and the drums of Barry Whitwam layed down so solidly, undoubtedly made sure that these guys played and Rock ‘n’Rolled solidly. But it was with such commitment and energy. One felt as if it was as if they were offering up these songs for the first time; and of course they weren’t and the audience sang and clapped in delight.

Such Great Hits, No Milk Today, Kind Of Hush,Sleepy Jack, and of course, Mrs. Brown you have a lovely daughter. All tracks that when one hears them again it reminds you of just how good this band have always been. Some say the secret is in the Mancunian accent and one could discern a little flavour of the north comparable to Arctic Monkeys, but not as flat vowelled as Mancunian poet,  John Cooper Clark. Enough however to give the Manc lads the cheekiness to make it, and make it they did.

But this isn’t a museum piece of a show far from it. It was organic and live and the notes and songs were being played and sang in a genuine and honest way. The evidence of rehearsal is so obvious to see. The harmonies were incredible these guys know and seem to like each other and that is important for good music. Anyone can play a song but it takes something quite different to make it yours and own it. These lads own their performance and they owned every song. It was great to see.

It is important too as a performer, to acknowledge your age, these guys did and we didn’t have four leather clad grandads with dyed hair and tight jeans. No that doesn’t work and offends people who are growing older. They can see it as a snub to their own age if the bands they enjoyed are still trying to be twenty. It’s all relative; There would have been no difference in age between the band and their audience then as now, that of course is a controversial point and not one to be argued out here. One shall stick to reviewing and not psychology. It is interesting though.

These guys are grafters there must be at least sixty dates on this tour spanning four months. By the time they have completed the tour they will have been seen by countless thousands and everybody in each concert are certainly guaranteed to get their money’s worth. One hopes they go on for a good few years and let’s hope that Barry writes a book, fifty five years in the same band  is incredible and he loves it. For that we loved him and the rest of the band.

This is A Four Star Review

Owen J.Lewis


Sofia Lewis Sofia Lewis
For many years Sofia wrote here under her male name Owen J. Lewis. She is now mostly writing under her own name of Sofia Lewis. Sofia, who worked on independent radio for over ten years, lives in Shrewsbury and writes plays. She has over 15 titles published and her plays are performed all over the world. She is especially popular in America. Her poetry is also often noted and she writes reams of it most weeks. Since graduating in theatre in 1997 Sofia has been an Actor, Filmmaker, and a Secondary School Teacher. Reviewing theatre is something she thoroughly enjoys and she loves to see great theatre. As a musician Sofia is known throughout the UK she is a folk singer, and is often seen or heard around her native county singing and having fun. Sofia has contributed to loveshrewsbury.com for over a decade and enjoys sharing her views on theatre. Sofia has one daughter and grew up in Church Stretton.

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