I remember during the mid 1960s listening to Simon and Garfunkel hits on the radio so, last night I went to see the tribute act ‘The Simon and Garfunkel Story’ at Whitey Bay playhouse. A large screen was used to project newsreels and montages from the 60s and 70s; the two man decades of their work, which I found interesting and enjoyed, except for a section where unknown people were talking about things that didn’t seem to relate to the story. The performers also add their own narrative to the story in between a variety of songs in chronological order. The timing of their harmonies was excellent though I thought ‘Garfunkel’s’ voice has too much of a nasal quality at the high notes. The music ranged from mainly acoustic in the first half to electric in the second and was well accomplished. I enjoyed hearing the performance of the big hits such as ‘Sounds of Silence’, ‘I am a Rock’, ‘Cecilia’, ‘Homeward Bound’ etc.. and these brought back the memory of why I wasn’t always impressed by their music, as I thought that their albums didn’t contain enough quality songs. Some of these they performed. Their encore was ‘Bridge over Troubled Water’ which although a great song and I appreciate it is difficult to sing, was performed terribly by ‘Garfunkel’; too many flat notes for me! Overall, I think The Simon and Garfunkel Story is really a show for die- hard fans of the music.
After spending all day on a rainy Sunday updating my memory, listening to Pink Floyd albums which I’ve never played for about 40 years; I went to see the tribute band UK Pink Floyd Experience at Whitley Bay Playhouse. As musicians, they were of a high calibre (especially the lead guitarist) which was equalled by the their light show. I was glad that they announced they would be performing not only the whole of ‘Dark side of the Moon, but at least one song from every album. They started with ‘Astronomy Domine’ then straight into ‘Arnold Layne’, two of my favourites, so I was immediately on their side. After the interval they did a stunning version of ‘Shine on you crazy diamond’, which went beyond the high standard set by the other songs. This was followed by ‘Dark Side’ continuous until its end. My only quibble would be the vocals of the Bass guitarist, they need to be a bit stronger for those songs that he performs. Nevertheless, it was an excellent concert.
I thought I’d take a step back in time as go and see a few pop groups of the 1960s whom I’d never previously seen, perform at Whitley Bay Playhouse. The first act were The Swinging Blue Jeans. By the end of their spot I was thinking, their sound is too ‘tinny’. Even when they tried to ‘perform’ it seamed tired and contrived. I’ve seen better at Working Men’s clubs. These were followed by The Fortunes with improved sound quality and played with enthusiasm especially the vocalist/bass player. After the Interval came The Trems (Tremeloes). Who sounded even better (or may I liked the their songs more). What distracted me was the vocalist/lead guitarist. Yes, he can certainly play and sing but his appearance jarred with the rest of the group, more Bon Jovi style than Tremeloes. These were followed by the Dakotas without Billy J. Kramer, who had parted company with them many moons ago. The new singer’s voice was more attuned to blues than ballads, but he made a valiant effort. The final act was Mike Pender who was from the original Searchers group. He had a bit more of a stage presence about him while running through their major hits. I was a bit disappointed that not of the groups had any original members, so for me they were more like ‘tribute’ bands. This whole show brought back memories of the ‘Package’ tours that pop groups undertook years ago. Basically, do your twenty minute slot, run through your hits and get off; how times and timings have changed.
Last night I went to Whitley Bay Playhouse for the first time to see ‘The Rod Stewart Story’ performed by the tribute band ‘Some Guys have all the Luck’. After two songs I was beginning to think this was just a tribute act, but no, the singer then began ‘Rod’s story’ aided with flashbacks on the screen behind the band. The first half continued in this vein, a bit of story followed by songs related to that era. After the interval it was song after song. It’s remarkable how many well known hits Rod Stewart has had and these were performed with enthusiasm and obvious enjoyment by the band. The musicianship was excellent. The vocalist’s (Paul Metcalfe) voice was similar to ‘Rod’s if a little more sharp but he did well in the up-tempo number and the onstage gyrations. Overall, a value-for-money, entertaining and interesting show, well worth seeing.