GIG: The Quarrymen
DATE: Monday 6th May 2013
VENUE: St James Theatre, London
COST: £17.50 with NO booking fees
OUR VERDICT: Putting on the Style
|The Stage is set.......|
“The Beatles”, the biography by Hunter Davies was devoured when first published in 1968 while The Beeb was still at school, so the names of The Quarrymen had long been ingrained on his psyche. Tickets for this intimate show, to promote the new play “And In The End: The Death and Life of John Lennon” were snapped up by him immediately.
No matter what kind of performance this was going to be musically, it didn’t matter. We were going to see a living, breathing piece of history before our very eyes. The band clambered on to the stage all dressed in Rory Gallagher type check shirts, and started off with “Mean Woman Blues”.
Rod took to the mic and introduced the band before explaining how he joined The Quarrymen. We were then reminded how much of an influence Lonnie Donegan had been back then, before launching into “Rock Island Line”.
Len seems quite lugubrious about the whole thing, but it was easy to see he was really enjoying it all. A couple of volunteers then got up to play washboard and tea-chest bass on another Lonnie Donegan song.
Rod then had a go at the relative merits of Elvis, before the band played “Blue Moon Of Kentucky” in the original slow way, before cranking it up to Elvis’s better known style. He then explained to us how John came to meet Paul at the Woolton fete. We all know the story I suppose, but it was a real buzz to hear it from someone who was actually part of the story.
Before we knew it, The Beeb was up on stage with the band, washboard in hand helping out on another Lonnie Donegan classic, “Lost John.” He couldn’t even claim this was a dream come true, because he’d never dreamt of anything so ridiculous in his life.
|The Beeb plays washboard|
John then told us the story of The Quarrymen’s recording of “That’ll Be The Day” and “In Spite Of All The Danger” back in the late 50’s. The band had explained why they don’t really do Beatles songs, but “In Spite Of All The Danger” was a valid exception.
During the second half, Valentine Pelka who is starring as John Lennon in the play, got up on washboard for a song. He was actually dressed in character and really looked the part of John circa 1972. This was also The Beeb’s cue to have a go at the tea-chest bass as they fired into the old Liverpool classic "Maggie Mae".
|The Beeb plays the Tea Chest Bass|
|John Duff Lowe recounts the tale |
of the early Percy Phillips disc
John filled us in on more details of the early Percy Phillips disc, before playing an amusing anecdote from Paul McCartney. During “In Spite Of All The Danger”, Minty had noticed that Len always seemed to be having a laugh to himself while singing. He really WAS enjoying it all.
After a few more songs we were coming to the end of the show. Len took to the mic for a really beautiful and heartfelt version of “In My Life” that he dedicated to John Lennon. This is such a timeless and poignant song at the best of times, but to hear it performed in these circumstances left more than a few with lumps in their throats for sure.
For the encore we had some more Elvis and a bit of Eddy Cochran too. There then followed a standing ovation for these guys who had brought history alive for us tonight.
After the show the band really went out of their way to take the time and chat and have photos taken with the fans. In some situations having former members of bands playing together after a long while could be looked at as exploitation, but certainly not in this case. The validation and credibility of the band is proven by the fact that they play songs that inspired THEM, The Quarrymen, not The Beatles.
They seemed to come across as being happy to have been part of what would become the biggest musical phenomenon the world would ever know. There certainly didn’t seem to be any regrets expressed by any of them.
For The Beeb, those names that he read about as a 12 year old Beatles fan, turned up tonight and made a dream he didn’t even know he’d HAD come true.
|The Beeb mingles with Len, John and Rod|