The sensational Sixties are Alive and Well

The Sensational Sixties Experience

Theatre Severn

29th October 2022

If you are a regular reader of these reviews, you may know I like to look at how the music contextually dove tailed with the era and also see; what was the socio, historical and political backdrop for the music that one is to encounter. Last time one spoke of the Seventies and all the problems that brought to this country.  

This time we are back in the greatest paradoxical era of all times: The Sixties. Depending on who you speak to, the Sixties were a decade of emancipation for many: To many others it was a time for  freedom of expression a time to grow. Sounds amazing! Now talk to America and they are much likely to allude to the near nuclear holocaust with Cuba: and we can’t forget they were fighting in Vietnam. A horrid evil war where innocents were murdered by American boys who didn’t want to be there. In that decade of love, Kent State University, and flowers in the end of guns, our world’s young against all odds, re-invented life for teens and they believed they invented love. Given that context one is always intrigued as to whom may step forward with their music and the sounds that they added to the melee to the decade of peace, love, horror and war. Funny though people will only refer to the sixties as a great time for music. It was but the backdrop was terrifying.

No such fears or horrors tonight as the show got under way, first band…The Fortunes (You got Your Troubles.) They were great and a really a good entry point to the many songs to be performed in the show. The Fortunes were slick, their talent still shining like a golden star and the music was tight and solidly reliably good. By Storm In a Teacup, we were all chanting along merrily.

 Leaving the instruments as a kind of communal thing bring on Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch. (Xanadu), Dave Dee has been lost to us all and the only original was Beaky. But my goodness what excellent musicianship. It is a joy to watch someone who really knows his way around d his instrument. It becomes hypnotically satisfying like the old Potter’s Wheel shorts. There were many moments with these likely lads, and they were very entertaining and where the reserve of energy is, one can only guess. A great set from these boys.

Bring on Vanity Fair (Hitching a Ride) A different band, maybe slightly more esoteric they certainly had a unique sound. A slow burner this set, the players throw you a line but reel in you slowly, so you don’t notice. Suddenly you’re up and dancing with the rest. Clever stuff, they know the ropes: by the end of the set one fixed and focussed as this band worked its way under one’s skin, into the ears and deeply into the psyche. One would wish to see them again. There is a very different vibe this band. Almost an intellectually more demanding message. They just like roses, grew on me. One imagines the Van  Fair knew the true state of the world and wanted to comment.

Vanity Fair stayed on stage and in a way became the Searchers, (Needles and Pins) as the only surviving member of the latter band stepped forward as the first Vocalist of the Searchers, and that was Mike Pender. MBE. Making it known that he was the only one left he embarked on an SAS course for vocals. Given his advancing years, he is 79 after all, he did a great job. His voice is that of an old man and sometimes it is just a little bit lacking in top notes. But let’s face it; this man is a legend and has forgotten more about music than we could ever get to know.

 By the time the reached the Classic song, Hitching a Ride. Mr Pender may well, as he announced, be retiring. It was great to see him, and one will add Pender’s legacy is too great and he is way too famous to be deconstructed by me. The man like all of us has aged but if am having audiences eating out of my hands at 79,  as this maestro does: I would be very happy and I’m sure he is too.

There were common mistakes but none to speak of other than, in the exciting moments, bands seem to love the audience to clap along. They always get them to clap too early, and they trail off about halfway through. A useless device! Clapping along should be reserved for the last verse and chorus. After all one was expected to clap along so much one suspected some junior harassed zookeeper may come and throw us some fish. I will not balance a ball on my nose as I watch this fascinating slice of our British culture. One wishes the show and all it’s players a happy tour and let’s hope Mr. Pender has a golden retirement. He has earned it.

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 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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