22 November 2016
Reviewed by Louise Watts
Think of 1960’s and what springs to mind? Rock ‘n’ Roll, Mods and Rockers (so I am told anyway!) I wasn’t born until the mid 1970’s and so completely missed the whole 1960’s era, however I believe that it is testament to the music produced then that the majority of my peers enjoy and know a large number of bands and songs from that era.
The idea of an evening of music from some of the big names from that age sounded exciting, vibrant and fun and that is why I chose to attend this evening. The Sensational 60’s Experience features seven bands from that decade; The New Amen Corner, The Swinging Blue Jeans, Chris Farlowe, The Fortunes, Herman’s Hermits, The Ivy League and Alan Mosca from Freddie and the Dreamers. As a youngster, I hadn’t heard of all of these bands, but I was very familiar with the songs which were lively, upbeat and swinging!
The evening was compered by Alan Mosca and what a sterling job he did. From the moment the Experience opened he was captivating, humorous and vibrant and this continued throughout the whole evening. The bands all had a chance to perform a set starting with the Ivy League. They were amusing and had an amazing level of banter between themselves taking the Michael out of “older” people (particularly their drummer) and how things are not like they were when they were younger! I hadn’t heard of this band before but knew several of the songs, including my favourite “Cupid, draw back your bow….”
They were followed by The Swinging Blue Jeans. I had heard of this group and was (like the rest of the audience) a little disappointed when they said they were not going to sing “Hippy Hippy Shake”, but there really was need to worry as their finale was this and it was as amazing as I thought it would be!!
Next and the final act of the first half was The Fortunes. They all looked very smart and although I didn’t know many of their songs, the performance was outstanding and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to learn some “new” songs.
The first half was just short of 1 hour 30 minutes of absolute joy. All the musicians were outstanding and to be honest, the quality of the music and performances would put an awful lot of modern artists to shame!
After a 20-minute interval and some serious plugging of the available merchandise, including a raffle for a wonderful signed guitar, it was time for Alan to recommence the show.
The second half started with Herman’s Hermits… I am embarrassed to admit that I had not heard of this band, particularly when they played all their songs as I knew every single one! My 2 favourites from this set have to be “I’m into something good” and “A Kind of Hush”. Absolutely brilliant!
Following next were The New Amen Corner whose lead singer was clearly not an original band member as he looked younger than me. That said, there was no disputing his performance and his voice was a pleasure to listen to. A Whiter Shade of pale performed beautifully, this was turning into an evening of pure talent and musical skill. I can’t write without commenting on the suit jackets worn by these boys. I don’t want to give too much away but they were really very special!
On stage with the New Amen Corner came Chris Farlowe. Well, what can I say? A truly incredible performer who sang several of my favourite songs, including “Handbags and Gladrags”, “Mandy” and “Stand By Me”. His singing was wonderful and his overall performance received a standing ovation at the end.
The pure quality of musical ability and raw skill was evident in abundance tonight and I wondered to myself on leaving the venue, whether in 40 years’ time, me and my friends will be watching Take That on stage in a similar situation? We will have to wait and see!
It was lovely to see The Hawth packed out. It is a beautiful venue and the staff are always polite and professional. It is well equipped for pre-theatre dinners and the bar sells a good range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks at a reasonable price. There is ample free on-site parking which reduces the stress commonly caused by trying to park!
The show has a running time of 3 hours (plus extra time after to meet all the cast if you would like to) and for that reason only I would suggest it is not appropriate for young children. The songs and performance is suitable for people of all ages, although the bulk of the audience were over 60. If you fancy a good old Rock ‘n’ Roll evening with some classic songs from an amazing musical era, then this is the show for you!
Talk about 3 hour running time…. too long? Why or why not?
The Sensantional 60’s Experience is currently on tour around the UK, for more information and tour dates click here.
For other shows at The Hawth Theatre in Crawley visit www.parkwoodtheatres.co.uk.
The Hawth, Hawth Avenue, Crawley, Sussex, RH10 6YZ | 01293 553636