GIG: Joe Meek – The Farewell Concert
DATE: Saturday 10th April 2010
VENUE: White Eagle Hall, Polish Club, Raans Road, Amersham, Bucks (Amersham Rock & Roll Club)
COST: £13.50 in advance
RATING: Quiffsville


The evening at the Amersham Rock & Roll Club kicked off at just after 7.30. Being resident in the Polish Club, a minutes silence was held in respect of the Polish president who tragically died in a plane crash that very morning.

The compere for the night was Robb Shenton(who has played in/been associated with many Joe Meek bands) and he introduced the first band on stage – The Saints. This band was the original house band for Joe Meek productions. Theirs was a fairly short set and included a Hank Williams number, complete with a lapsteel, a great version of Heinz’s “Just Like Eddie” which they had originally played on, and their final number (which was also their only hit from the 60’s) was “Wipeout”, featuring original drummer Ricky Winter.

Robb Shenton cracked a few jokes to keep the audience occupied while The Saints packed up their gear, and The Triumphs took to the stage. The Triumphs covered a couple of Joe Meek numbers, “Bless you” and “Telstar”. They introduced Bobby Rio to the stage and then were his backing band as Bobby launched into “The Wanderer”. Also included in Bobby's set was “My Prayer” the 1952 Platters’ hit, which needs a strong voice to sing it, and Bobby did just fine. The set closed with a cover of “Have I The Right” which made us realise just what a great crowd pleaser this song really is. We’ve never heard this song being done live before, but it certainly proved to be a dance floor filler tonight.

Next up were The Flames whose set included “Shakin’ All Over” and a Packabeats track. They then became the band in residence, as Charlie Gracie who had travelled across from the USA came on stage and started a great set of real Rockabilly type tunes. His guitar playing on some songs was fabulous (was he the forerunner to today’s guitar shredders?) and the crowd were up and dancing throughout his set, and demanded an encore, which Charlie obliged with.

After a short interval, the Flames came back on stage as the backing band for Mike Berry. Mike was dressed in black and started a rock and roll set, kicking off with “Hello Mary Lou”, “Summertime Blues” and “Please Don’t Tease”. His set also included a couple of Buddy Holly songs, and Alvin Stardust’s “Pretend”. Mike also did a couple of his own numbers – his own “Tribute to Buddy Holly” (which had been produced by Joe Meek) and then his 1980 chart hit “Sunshine of Your Smile”. He also came back on for an encore (he said he was coming back on anyway!) which was “High School Confidential” which sounded absolutely great. Again the crowd were up and dancing throughout the set.

Another short interval, and then the headline act, John Leyton was on stage, again backed by The Flames. Dressed in black leather with "J.L" embossed on the back of his jacket, he went straight into “Shout! Shout! Knock Yourself Out” which set the tone for the rest of the night – a great mix of good old rock and roll. His set was interspersed with recollections of his film and TV career, with some fond memories of Charles Bronson, with whom he had starred in “The Great Escape”. Highlights of John’s set in terms of covers were “Poetry in Motion”, “Oh Boy” (which had great backing harmonies from The Flames) and a Gene Vincent tribute with a teaser of “Be Bop A Lula” and then the full “Say Mama”. From his own repertoire of songs, we were treated to “Wild Wind”, “Tell Laura I Love her”, “Son This Is She”, “Make Love To Me” and the quintessential John Leyton classic, “Johnny Remember Me” which closed his set. Again the crowd filled the dance floor throughout and demanded more and they did get more.

As the music finished, John was called back to the stage, along with Clem Cattini (the original drummer and leader of the Tornados) who had been sitting in the audience, to be presented with a special commemorative award to mark the 50th anniversary of their musical careers by the Joe Meek Society.

This gig was quite special – it is not likely that these names will be back on stage together again, especially given that many of them are hitting 70 (if not already past that milestone). No wonder this was a complete sell out.

We had a great evening and The Beeb had the opportunity to chat with Clem Cattini (did you know that although he is 72, he has not hung up his drumsticks yet and is the drummer on Paul Weller’s new record?) and have his picture taken with him, and likewise with John Leyton.


  1. Charlie Gracie IS the real deal! At 73 he still puts outshines many performers 25-years his junior--even when saddled with sub-par backing bands. He's been on tour for almost 5-weeks in the U.K. already--mostly with the superb backing of Class of '58. We've seen him twice already. He's still amazing! Bret

  2. This concerts are so wonderful and help to keep the sound and a special era alive. Today's kids don't know what they missed! Charley Gracie never fails to disappoint. Where does he get so much energy? Indeed, a "Fabulous" performer. John Leyton still looks marvelous. Mike Berry did a great job too. All three were so gracious and put on one helluva show. Encore!

  3. Sounds like it was indeed a great night! Fabulous photos too!