Thursday, 20 August 2009

The Searchers Tour Review Congress Theatre Eastbourne 20th August 2009

The SearchersCongress Theatre, Eastbourne
20th August 2009 & 28 August 2008
Frank Allen
John McNally
Spencer James
Eddie Rothe

Back in 2008 when The Searchers returned to Eastbourne I found myself sitting next to Wendy Burton who happens to run The Searchers web site

At that time I promised Wendy I'd be in touch to share my pictures and my verdict on the show.
I'm more than a little late because write-ups on shows got a little behind at one point!! But I will fully make up for it this year.

Frank Allen of The Searchers 2009 - My favourite shot of the nightIncidentally I believe I was originally sat next to Wendy at this years show. However, to sit with friends, she changed seats and swapped with a guy who I think was known to her. Nothing against any sort of dedicated fan but boy it was like watching the show whilst sitting on a bouncy castle at times. And screams? He could give teenage fans of High School Musical a run for their money.

Anyway I digress....

Now I realised I had to make up big time for the non-existence of a review last year so I hope the fans and the band like the little promotional video I made above just using a selection of concert clips from last year.

Unlike so many bands they are not camera shy and are happy for fans to take photos at shows. Although I had full tracks recorded I wanted to produce a little something that was enjoyable, yet respecting the value of music and copyright. I quite like the simple 5 minute result and it has already received a positive You Tube comment within 24 hours.

Frank Allen of The Searchers 2009This year I took no video. However I thought whilst reviewing I'd share with the world a number of stills I took this year. Sometimes I have taken photos at shows, when permitted, only to be disappointed at the result. There were a few blurries this year but overall I am pleased.

If your browser allows hovering your mouse cursor over a picture may give more details.
Well as time goes on we are left with fewer and fewer great groups from the 1960's who have had band member changes over the years and yet who can still command a huge amount of respect from concert goers.
The Searchers have, however, continued to thrive over the years. There is also something relatively unique in the type of audience this band attracts. Go and see many a band from the 60's or even a collection of artists doing a tour and you will find the age of the average audience member is substantially greater than that commanded by The Searchers. Perhaps that's because the later recruits are a tad younger than the band's elders? Maybe it's down to the band's energy and enthusiasm, their friendly approach to fans or just good music? But whatever the reason is it's great to see many in their 30's, 40's and even 20's enjoying Rock 'N' Roll delivered at it's best.
John McNally of The Searchers 2009Band "Front Man" Frank Allen is still Rockin' and Rollin' after more than 45 years with The Searchers but he is certainly showing no signs of giving up yet. With his continued energy, enthusiasm and strong sense of humour you get the feeling Frank will keep performing as long as he can still sing and hold a guitar! You get the feeling that if he had to eventually be wheeled on stage he'd do it!
It seems that The Searchers have never really classed themselves as celebrities. They just love what they do and it shows. None of this "don't you know who I am" attitude. No 20 questions before they sign an autograph in case some urchin is selling it on eBay and no inflated ego thing about the taking of photos at gigs. It is all so refreshing. Copyright is all very well but I think it can be taken to some very stupid extremes. File sharing is what is damaging music. A You Tube video is no substitute for the real thing, yet can be a great free advert for the artist(s) if done well. I would like to see more artist(s) not be so hard on photo/video footage. A photo taken with agreement does far more to advertise an artist than a sneakily taken grainy video.
Spencer James of The Searchers in 2009John McNally is the true founder member of The Searchers and he always looks as if he's enjoying performing as much as ever. More than 46 years on he's still strumming away on his impressive line up of guitars and jigging across the stage with the energy of a man 30 years younger (I know you may not feel it John - but that's at least the way it looks). The banter between Allen and McNally throughout the gigs is one of the things that adds to a Searchers show. After 45+ years together they probably know each other better than a married couple and it's a relationship that works so well.
Spencer James, whose vocals are nothing short of incredible, may be a relatively youthful member of the group but incredibly this former member of the group "The First Class" has now been an essential part of the band for 23+ years.
Eddie Rothe, The Searchers drummer, 2009The "Baby" Searcher is the hugely vital and talented Eddie Rothe who has already clocked up over 10 years service with the group and drummed up loads of support from fans (pun absolutely intended).
Eddie's other half is "loose woman" and former "The Cruise" star Jayne McDonald. By sheer coincidence Jayne was appearing at the Congress only 2 days after The Searchers.
Having seen (and met) the friendly Jayne several times at The Congress Theatre she always puts on a superb show. But in these credit crunching times given the choice of seeing 4 Searchers for £10 less than a solo Jayne McDonald The Searchers won hands down on the value for money front this year. I did wonder if many others had taken the same financial decision as when Frank Allen asked if any of the substantial audience were going to see Jayne McDonald the response was a deafening silence.
Another thing I have found with The Searchers is that time passes incredibly quickly. Due to the fact the music is always so utterly brilliant the interval seems to arrive in no time and the second half, encores and the like seem to be over swiftly too.
Frank Allen having done away with the drummer conceals the murder weapon and sneaks away
I have yet to see The Searchers on an occasion when they have failed to get a standing ovation. I can't see it happening anytime soon either.
All the greatest hits are, of course, always covered including the inevitable favourites: Sweets for my sweet, Love potion no 9, Sugar and Spice, Needles and Pins, When You Walk In The Room and many many more.
However although you would always expect these hits to be played everytime you go to see one of their concerts you never seem to tire of them. This is because Frank Allen and his fellow Searchers have a knack of keeping each tour fresh. New humour is introduced, tracks are shuffled around, less popular hits are introduced and songs from other artists get cover versions.
This is probably another reason why with at least 5 major band member changes over 45+ years The Searchers remain as popular worldwide today as they have always been. The show has been kept fresh, they've always looked after their loyal fans and the talent they have sourced when they have lost a band member has always been a popular choice.
John McNally reminds older audience members how to clapGiven the choice of seeing The Searchers perform a whole show themselves or as part of a "Solid Silver 60's Show" type multi-artist compilation I would go for the full show any day. Musically impressive and thoroughly entertaining I hope they continue doing concerts in full until they can no longer stand.
They certainly have a very loyal following who hope the same.
Any critisisms? Only one................. where are the programmes? CDs are available at the venues for purchase and signing if required but for at least the last couple of years no programmes.
Come on guys it's a great opportunity to bring your followers up to date with The Searchers history with up to date pictures and at the same time give them some new memorabilia for signing! I guess there's also the added bonus that they might raise a few quid too towards your next Las Vegas performance as we know how much you love Vegas.
Just remember to come back to Eastbourne soon and to bring some nice new programmes with you!
Spencer James laughs as Frank Allen tells him how old John McNally really is
5 out of 5 for The Searchers Tour 2009 Print This Entry

1 comment:

  1. Good article about a great group: I saw them live in auckland,NZ in January 2007,on the harbour--great. I was so lucky to see them in Rotorua,NZ this january,where i met Frank in the car park before the show and met them all after the show,----what a great ,bunch of down to earth guys and the cherry on the top was seeing them at "Elmars in the valley" at Perth,west australia in February ---it was a dinner/concert and my friend booked the tickets and we were sat just in front of the stage---I think frank thought he was seeing things,--me again. We had a great time at the show and afterwards,as usual. sadly they won't be playing in NZ next year but hopefully they will play in OZ again so I'll do my hardest to see them again;cheers,carol


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