Butlins Stars of the 60s Festival, Skegness, 7-10 December 2012

Our second attendance at the 60s weekend, and after the last one where I spent too much time querying the personnel on stage and their dubious claims, I tried to concentrate on the nostalgia element this time.  So here goes…

Friday night. First up , the Animals and friends. Same intro from Mr Barton, and pretty much their usual set. A couple of changes though. In the ‘I was in the Animals for about 10 minutes in the 60s’ keyboard slot, previously occupied by Dave Rowberry then Mickey Gallagher, is Zoot Money. I’m sure it was a slip of the tongue from Mr Barton when he introduced Mr M as an ‘original Animal’, as I believe he was actually part of Eric Burdon and the NEW Animals back in 1968? Bugger, ignore that, otherwise I’ll be accused of being pedantic. Anyway, Mr M gave us his ‘Big Time Operator’ amongst the Animals 60s setlist. They always give a good show, and Mr B has got a very good voice , so a decent start to the weekend. (But still cause for a ‘Rant’ elsewhere on here!).        Next up are Vanity Fare. They’ve been on the circuit for some 40 years now, and they started out with their 2 late 60s hits, which were a bit iffy. We then got the La’s hit, definitely not the 60s ,but then a 12 string guitar was produced. Up came an excellent medley of Byrds songs! Never expected ‘Turn, Turn, Turn’, ‘Feel a whole lot better’ and ‘Eight Miles High’ to sound so decent. They gave us a well-performed Billy Joel acapella song, and although the stab at The Beach Boys didn’t work as well as The Byrds, it was nothing to be ashamed of. ‘Hitchin’ a Ride’ finished proceedings .             Finishing the night were the Tremeloes. Still featuring long-serving members Dave Munden and Rick West(wood), there were plenty of 60s Trems hits. (Being pedantic again, as most think the afore-mentioned are both original members but technically no!) . Sadly regarding the Tremeloes, I can’t forget their famous quote in the 70s when they decided they wanted to make ‘serious’ music and people who bought their 60s singles were ‘morons’. Their fans left in droves, and it wasn’t long before they were back on the ‘chicken in a basket’ circuit playing that 60s rubbish. Anyway, they give the public what they want now, without reminding us of their previous  (in)famous comment. And it was Westwood’s final show. All told , a decent opening night.

Saturday. Gave the Four Seasons tribute afternoon show a miss, as did a lot of wristbanded people in Skeggy itself. First up on the night, The Fortunes.  Relatively new singer/bassist, as Rod Allen (only remaining original) died a few years ago. Will try and resist commenting on the man’s patter, but his comments about the ‘legendary’ (?) Bob Jackson being in Badfinger (which he was, though not an original) and all the spiel about Badfinger being at the famous concert with Dylan and George Harrison (which they were but Jackson wasn’t in them yet!) seemed to be loaded with ‘half-truths’. But then again, the new Fortune had come from The Dakotas…yes, the very same! Anyway, the hits were churned out, but they were basically a club act.  Next we got The Dakotas. Yes, the very same group that were to Billy J Kramer as The Shadows were to Cliff Richard…shurely shome mishtake offisher!!??  Yet another clubland act, who on their website desperately try to convince us that they are the genuine article. Basically, the Dakotas were a Manc group hired to back Billy J Kramer, just as the Shads were for Cliff. So how would the crowd react if this same lot were billed as The Shadows and started with ‘Bachelor Boy’ instead of ‘I’ll keep you satisfied’!? Laughable!!  All this rubbish about John and Paul offering ‘us’…’US??!!’ …this song. Embarrassing club fare, even singing Robbie Williams!  Finally, The Marmalade. Not featuring (as in the brochure) final original Graham Knight, but the brochure is as packed with inaccuracies as some of these blokes. Yes , we get the hits and a bit more, but by the end of the night I may as well have been in Ingoldmells W.M.C. for 6 hours, without the bingo.                                          I reckon I can safely say that not a single person on stage tonight (and that includes The Dreamers on the other stage), featured on any of the 60s hits which they are trading on. Not one. Seriously!  Not the best night I have spent at Butlins. My attempt at wallowing in nostalgia has been dented.

So, Sunday afternoon. We are promised ‘The Best of British, feat. Cliff Farlowe, Cliff Bennett and The New Amen Corner.  TNAC came out for the first set, starting with an Amen Corner song!  BUT, give them their due, no mention at all of (the old) Amen Corner, and we got a basic show in the tradition of Amen Corner which hinted at clubland but was much better than last night. The 2nd set saw the entrance by Cliff Bennett, still in good voice and featuring his singles ‘One Way Love’ and ‘Got to get you into my Life’. Then Chris Farlowe was announced, and I reckon the whole audience gasped as a frail, bespectacled, white-haired bloke shuffled on stage. He looked all of his 72 years, and then some, but when he started to sing the years melted away. ‘Mr Pitiful’, ‘Handbags and Gladrags’ were featured as well as the inevitable ‘Out of Time’. He went off , only to come back out with Mr Bennett for a cracking version of Sam and Dave’s ‘Hold on, I’m coming’. Great end to an afternoon which did something to make last night’s entertainment a distant memory.

The final lap, Sunday night. Dave Berry and the Cruisers start us off, and the sad demise of the mic lead has unfortunately reduced Mr B’s infatuation with his mic and lead. Still, he always delivers, and we got more modern songs such as ‘Switchboard Susan’, ‘Tulsa Time’ and ‘Gimme all your Lovin’ in with his hits.     Sadly, we are plunged back into clubland again with Edison Lighthouse. More ‘dodgy’ info about how ‘they’ started out, and isn’t it strange how when people die  (like Davy Jones) they were big friends of the likes of this lot?!  It seems that a couple of the original Edison Lighthouse live/lived in Cornwall and went out under the name some years back. Interesting!  Anyway, more of the usual ‘call and response’ rubbish that you would expect from Crackerjack, and they were away (but they’ve been coming for 30 years so sadly not away for long).    Last of the weekend are Herman’s Hermits, still with original drummer Barry Whitwam. Big taped intro, we get plenty of hits, and something I always find refreshing is that they are straight down after the show for signings and photos.        I was going to say that was the end, but it seems that The Cufflinks were playing out in the open area. Do you mean ‘Tracy’ from 1969 etc!?  What do you think?

I tried not to be too pedantic, and there are lots more holes I could have mentioned, but I am in a definite minority. Regardless of some issues re ‘the genuine’ article, the proof of the pudding is in the entreating and there was lots of entreating for more every night. Regarding 60s groups, yes people leave, pack in or just plain die, and every year there will be fewer originals around. I just wish there could be a bit less economy with the facts.


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