Monthly Archives: March 2018

Festival of the 60s. Butlin’s Skegness. 9-11 March 2018

Not been to the 60s weekend at Skeggy for a while, but were tempted by the prospect of The Pretty Things, especially as rumours were flying that they may be retiring.  By all means have a look at one of the first entries on the Bunternet from December 2011 for a somewhat less-than-gushing review!

Friday. The New Mindbenders. To avoid too much repetition , please have a look at my review of The Mindbenders from August 2012 at Upton Music Festival. This lot have added the word ‘New’, which is shorter than ‘F**k all to do with the real’.  Starting out with the Hollies’ ‘Just one look’, the next 50 minutes or so consists of awful versions of 60s standards eg ‘For your love’, ‘Poison Ivy’, ‘Sealed with a kiss’ and renditions of songs which originally had the word ‘Mindbenders’ on the label of the disc. The performers were nowhere near the studios when they were made , of course. And, yes. they still refer to ‘our old mates’ Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman, whom I am sure would be spitting feathers at the misuse of their names. Even a couple of old biddies behind us were shouting abuse at them.  It does hint of masochism by watching them from the point of a  previous encounter , but I thought I would start at the bottom and work up.            Unbelievably, the DJ played ‘All Right Now’?! 60s?!    The Pretty Things.  Starting with ‘Honey I need’, they were firmly planted in the 60s part of their career, via ‘Keep your big mouth shut’ and ‘Big boss man’ following in quick succession. There was a brief swerve into their recent ‘Sweet Pretty Things…’ lp before a couple of eagerly-anticipated tracks from ‘S.F.Sorrow’ had the people at the front singing along. Dick Taylor switched to acoustic for a couple of nods to Mssrs Johnson, Dixon and Diddley before giving us ‘Mona’. They finished with a couple of their 60s hits, and left the genuine fans well pleased. Sadly, we were surrounded by F**kwits Incorporated who were only happy when May, Taylor and Co had left and they could sing along to ‘I’m into something good’. Why come at all?! Stay at home, buy some cans, put on a 60s compilation cassette and save yourself a few hundred quid.  Would the booking agents please put The Pretty Things on for Blues and Rock next year rather than this one, if they haven’t retired.          Kenney Jones and the Jones Gang.  Robert Hart back on vocals? Is he moonlighting from Manfred Mann’s Earth Band.  Anyway, we start out with ‘Rollin’ over’ from the seminal ‘Ogden’s’ lp, followed by ‘Substitute’. Kenney, of course, played drums in the Small Faces and was briefly in The Who post-Moon.  And then ‘Maggie May’. At a 60s festival? Mr Hart told us that it was written in 69 and that Kenney played on the record. I have reservations about both these ‘facts’!  Plenty more Small Faces stuff to follow plus Faces and more from The Who.  Strayed a bit from the 60s and Mr H was very keen to invite singalongs (coinciding with his struggling to hit the notes?).  They went down well though, and the Centre Stage audience seemed to go to bed happy and hoarse.

Saturday. Clearwater Creedence Revival.  Yes, read it carefully!  The latest ploy from the copy act industry, just rearrange the words in the original?!  Especially clever when most of the audience have dodgy eyesight. Who can have thought of that?  Step forward Mister…Pete Barton!?  Well known to Bunternet as booking supremo at Butlins, surely he was in Creedence Clearwater Revived?!  Has he left one copy act to form another?  Anyway, they give us an hour of CCR which , to be honest, is pretty good!  Mr Barton has a very good voice, and it is ironic that today’s Telegraph is advertising a John Fogerty gig in London.  Her Ladyship and I are going to form a tribute to The Ramones called Ramones The . And why not?             Ray Ennis and the Original Blue Jeans. If you look at the December 2011 review , I categorised the 60s groups into 7 types. Here is another, namely when an original  has left a group but returns only to find the group name is owned by someone else (cf Martin Turner and Wishbone Ash, also the Sugarbabes).  They come on, but surely that isn’t Mr E? ( Am I mistaken or is it Mike Sweeney, DJ/Swinging Blue Jean/Salford Jet/Mindbender?) No it is not Mr Ennis,  he got the big intro after his buddies had done ‘Please Please Me’.  We get the Swinging Blue Jeans hits, plus predictable rock n roll and other 60s staples. A club act basically. The Nashville Teens were up next, but having seen their club set at A New Day Festival we decided we couldn’t face any more of the same . The evening session in Reds started with The Springfields .  (I think someone from the Rock and Blues weekend was still there, we had landed again on Planet Flatulenta!  And you always know who has let rip, it’s the person who is looking round in disgust in a vain attempt to deflect blame! ).    So Mike Hurst from the Springfields comes on. Neither he nor the DJ mention that he isn’t an original member though, strangely.  Mr H tells us the Springfields are second only to the Beatles regarding the number of hits as a group plus individual members. Interesting stat. Yes, but Dusty Springfield’s 26 chart entries were after she left. I seems he includes songwriting aand production credits by Tom Springfield and himself. Where do you draw the line?  Does the bloke who drove the red bus to the studio get a credit too?  Yes, the Springfields had 5 hits, very creditable. But the bag o’ sh*te that is the Wurzels had 6!  The Stones and Status Quo are but two who have had many many chart entries and what does Mary Wilson of The Supremes say (including Diana Ross stuff?). So, they play a couple of the Springfield hits, plus Everly Brothers stuff. He gives us lots of stories about his very successful career as a producer, with accompanying tunes by the likes of Cat Stevens, Showaddywaddy and Manfred Mann. We get the inevitable Dusty tracks.  He told us that ‘Island of dreams’ took 45 takes, I’m not surprised if he sang like this on the previous 44. His vocals  were sadly iffy at times, the encore was probably their best song.        Dozy Beaky Mick and Tich. Yes, a great name originally but a nightmare if someone leaves! Dave Dee departed from the great 60s line-up and there have been 3 Beakys, I think, but the original is now back.  Big taped intro, first song is Crispian St Peter’s ‘You were on my mind’.  I feared we were about to get a real 60s club act. But it was…OKAY!  Beaky tells a good tale re the history of DDDBM&T and we get half a dozen of ‘their’ hits, interspersed with familiar pop/rock n roll songs.        Crystals featuring La La Brooks. Ms Brooks wasn’t ‘quite’ an original Crystal, but sang lead on ‘Da Do Ron Ron’ and ‘Then he kissed me’. (They start out with the latter and finish with the former). The set is a mixture of old and new, featuring the Stones ‘Beast of Burden’ and a bit of U2.  She encores with the Tina Turner version of ‘Proud Mary’ and is amazingly enegetic for someone who won’t see 70 again. Sadly , she is right when she says that the USA isn’t interested in ‘old’ when it comes to women. Martha Reeves has been on the 60s ‘tours’ for years, but conversely Diana Ross tickets would be just a touch pricier!  Fellow Crystal Barbara Alston died last week.

Sunday. Didn’t bother queueing up for a Beatles copy group, but , of course, hundreds did.  Went in later to see Vanity Fare and Steve Ellis. I remember Vanity Fare exceeded my expectations last time. The bar hadn’t been set particularly high though, I think it was as high as a corgi’s cock. We got the Vanity Fare singles straight off, plus ‘Spirit in the sky’. Steve Ellis came on and gave us 4 of the Love Affair singles plus a singalong ‘All or nothing’. Did what it says on the tin.          Stan Boardman Don’t think a comedy spot has featured before but well done to whoever made the decision. Had the place in stitches, a welcome addition to the weekend.        Evening starts with The Searchers. Have seen them a few times, I especially liked their period c. 1979 when they made a couple of great lps, including ‘Hearts in her eyes’ and ‘September Gurls’. They started with ‘Sweets for my sweet’, ‘Don’t throw your love away’ and ‘Sugar and spice’ and all seemed well. But then it was ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ ?!. Still got some of their many hits but also loads of other people’s hits. Won’t bore you with the titles, but I wondered if it was because they were playing over in the other venue later and they were spreading the load? Bloody Gerry and the Pacemakers singalong?!  In fact, I went across later to check them out and the set seemed the same.  Very, very disappointing. After decades, they seem to have descended into the morass of all the other club groups. And Frank Allen was a bit economical with the truth. Praise for the first Searchers lp, but it slipped his mind to tell us that he wasn’t on it?         The Fortunes. Another outfit who last time seemed a tad confused with the facts. Bob Jackson is a member who is also in a version of Badfinger. (There is a rival version in the USA with an original member). He sang a couple of their songs, giving the impression that maybe he was on the original singles?  He certainly didn’t introduce them by saying that he wasn’t in Badfinger at the time.  Drummer informed us he had been in Love Affair and Marmalade and bass player had been in the Dakotas. Again, the words ‘original member’ didn’t feature.  It is to some extent being a bit picky, as they are a very polished outfit, but to be fair most of the audience don’t know or care about their lineage. They just want to dance and sing to familiar songs. Plenty of standard 60s songs to do it to.            Herman’s Hermits. Featuring their original drummer, they are always sure to refer to the hits as being by ‘Herman’s Hermits’ and not by ‘us’.  They did play many of the many hits, but spoilt it a bit with a medley of other people’s stuff. Got a drum solo too!  Her Ladyship was annoyed that they sang the wrong words to one HH song though (Sunshine girl) A woman behind us was fully expecting to see Peter Noone, she is obviously not a regular attender on the 60s circuit. Something I never knew is that there is Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone playing in the USA. They were always huge over there and it brings back to mind my many entries on the Andy Powell v Martin Turner case regarding the name Wishbone Ash.

And that was that. Anything to add?

  • Queues.  Mindnumbing. It seems that there are people who start one if there isn’t one there.
  • Venues. The carpet in Reds was like walking into the manager’s office in a glue factory.
  • Toilets. Mayhem in Reds. The Gents was closed (about time they were fumigated!!). ‘Ladies’ had to double up.
  • Drinks. Prices par for the course. Staff always polite
  • Food. Has been very decent for ages.
  • ‘Best of fest’. The Pretty Things.
  • ‘Star Quality’. La La Brooks.
  • ‘Do Not Resuscitate’. The New Mindbenders
  • DJs. Out of the 1000s of 60s songs, they only seemed to play about 10! Must have heard ‘Penny Arcade’ in every session
  • Merchandise. Hardly any. Stan Boardman had some  and  Herman’s Hermits were the only ones we saw come down to sign and sell stuff. 3 cds/dvds for an Ayrton Senna.
  • Candour. No, not a little-known 60s group, just a plea for a bit more ‘truth’. I know that people leave and join these groups, and (sadly) members die. There aren’t many people who have the same job for more than 50 years and there are examples above of some such people. But would it hurt too much just to say ‘We are The ***** and , yes, we are all too young to have been on these records but we will give it our best shot’?

All in all, better than our last 60s  visit.


HMS Prog. P and O Ferries Minicruise. 2-3 March 2018

P&O have been doing themed weekend minicruises for quite a while, including different genres of music and (no kidding) darts!  On a ferry?!  The prog rock version is the first attempt at this type of music so it is a first review.

We were lucky with the weather. Leeds to Hull seemed to have a clear corridor, if we had been 20 miles north, south or west we would have been snowbound.

Friday. An annoying delay setting off meant the opening act, Cairo, had to remove their gear but would play tomorrow night instead.          So Martin Turner ex-Wishbone Ash was first up. Tonight’s performance was the classic Argus LP in full, with the running order changed slightly.  Martin’s vocals were a bit wobbly to start with, but quickly got sorted. Danny and Tim are both strong back-up vocalists and there were plenty of Wishbone Ash fans there to witness a good rendition. No encore, unfortunately, but maybe the delay in departure was to blame. The overall vocal sound was maybe a touch ‘clubby’ but the playing was spot on.              Caravan.  No Geoff Richardson tonight, his place was taken by the highly-experienced jazz guitarist John Ethridge. Probably best known from Soft Machine, I seem to remember Her Ladyship saw him playing with Darryl Way’s Wolf in Scarborough (when Mr Way fell off the stage,)  Any Caravan fans who have seen recent gigs will have not been surprised by the set list. ‘All this could be yours’ , ‘Head Loss’, ‘If I could …’, ‘…Grey and Pink’, ‘Golf Girl’ and ‘Love to love you’.  Newer tunes such as ‘Farewell my old friend’, ‘Dead man walking’, ‘Fingers in the till’ all have that recognisable Caravan touch and they finish off with ‘I’ll be there for you’ and the crowd favourite ‘9 feet underground’.  Very enjoyable, we went upstairs to watch Geoff Downes on his keyboard. Missed the first half, but ‘Heat of the moment’ and ‘Video killed the radio star’ ended a good first night for us.

Saturday. Weather conditions meant we didn’t get into Amsterdam until 12.30pm, about 2 hours later than normal. So we didn’t go to the ‘secret’ gig, due to start at 1.00pm and featuring a couple from Pendragon on acoustic instruments.  Decided to look round the flea market and go bar-hopping (our usual schedule in Amsterdam). Crap exchange rate makes it an expensive way to spend 4 hours there.  Suitably refreshed we boarded the coach back and waited for Round 2.      Cairo. Having set up again, they started up with some FX. Strange that a 5-piece standard prog line-up should need so much electronic assistance.  I thought their first song was about President Trump ( ‘White House’) but it seems it was ‘Wiped Out’.  A couple of blokes in front of us were in major ‘whoop ‘ mode but I couldn’t see why. Possibly it was the gallon of over-priced Grolsch in the afternoon that had affected my ears? No, I decided, they were just crap.        Martin Turner and his chums came on for their second spot, this time playing the ‘There’s the Rub’ lp. The first studio outing for Laurie Wisefield, I aways thought it had Martin’s stamp all over it.  Today’s rendition was really good, all the vocals were excellent. They even managed a couple of encores with ‘Doctor’ and ‘Jail bait’. The bass sound was better than Friday and it had my thinking that if Mr Powell should try the same project he would come a real cropper.       PFM.  Veteran Italian proggers, filling in for original act Focus.  Not heard a note by them before, but I was very quickly impressed. Will check them out when I get home.    The weekend came to an end with another Geoff Downes spot. More from his extensive career, plus a Q&A session.  Two of Mart’s lot got up to do some Beatles songs, which seemed a bit bizarre, but Her Ladyship pointed out that maybe the Q&A section was flagging a bit  (and most of the audience were marginally overserved by this time).

And that was it.  An enjoyable weekend. Not cheap but hopefully it was successful enough to warrant another one. Negatives? There were people there who wouldn’t have known Martin Turner from Tina Turner but the audience in general were well-behaved prog fans. The sound system seemed to have one prog cd on repeat play.  Saturday’s pre-gig music had some sub-jazz  bollox on. When Her Ladyship politely requested some more ‘appropriate’ stuff she got a smartarse reply . It’s a good job there was some reinforced glass there, or he would have been eating his crisps through a  f**king straw. TW*T! ( N.B this wasn’t the prog DJ). The crossing was a bit rocky but nothing that P and O can can do about that.

photos…forgot camera so not great quality, taken on phone.