Reviewed by Jan Mellor
On entering the packed hall at 8pm we were welcomed by the 70’s hit “Here comes the sun” and a roaring crowd. The eight-piece band that included violinist, and two female backing singers (twins Mona and Lisa) had the place rocking by the very start. The band moved through their songs (from the 11 recorded albums since the band formed in 1973) “Make me Happy”, “I’ll be there” (a song Steve told us he wrote about his children leaving for university), “Sling it” (with jazz instrumental), “Save me “(a religious melody of hope), and “Wanna be someone” and Steve showed that he still had the vocals to perform these songs with passion and strength. A woman in front of me passionately sang along with him to every song reciting every word in total awe – yes Steve Harley still had the magic of the last 40+ years. These years of show business were shared with the audience as Steve recounted the times he had spent with Rod Stewart, Marc Bolan and Vince Clarke and the crowd were loving these stories. There was a real and genuine aura that Steve portrayed that made you want him to talk about his experiences more and more but the roars of “Sebastian” and “Mr. Soft” made him move on. He explained that his song “Might be you” was on Rod Stewart’s latest CD and finishing with “We’re having a party” – it was evident of how proud Steve was of his songs. During the interval people were able to buy T-shirts and CDs (Birmingham Symphony Live, Journey’s End and Quality of Mercy) and the people queued down the aisles to purchase them, all proudly wearing the t -shirts immediately to show their patronage to the singer and band.
The second half comprised of covers from singers, and no doubt Steve’s pals, and started with an amazing rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne” a song he sang unaccompanied, then a funky version of Marc Bolan’s “Dandy of the underworld” and a moving tribute to David Bowie – “Absolute Beginners” (which had the audience on their feet applauding madly). The band then moved onto Cockney Rebel hits “Mr Soft”, “The best years of our lives” and (as requested) “Sebastian” which wowed everyone and much to Steve’s pleasure – had people up and dancing in front of the stage. ‘Next time’ – Steve vowed, ‘we will remove the seats and we can all be dancing!’ – there was a roaring response. With performances by the twins (vocals, guitar and mouth organ) and solos from the violinist, the 1,000 people were in rapture when the band moved to their finale of the 1975 hit “Make me Smile – Come up and see me” and 95% of the them were up on their feet clapping and remained so well after the band had finished. The band filmed the ecstatic audience a true recognition that this evening meant a lot to them too.
On leaving the show I asked a couple – what do you think of the show- “Absolutely fantastic!” they said. The man stated – “I went to see them in Coventry when I was 16 – over 40 years ago – and I have followed them ever since – he sounds just as good now as he did then”. Testimony itself I feel.
A superstar band who are as great as ever.
For other shows at the Parr Hall in Warrington visit www.pyramidparrhall.com or call the box office on 01925 442884.
Pyramid & Parr Hall, Cultural Quarter, Palmyra Square South, Warrington, WA1 1BL