GIG: Johnny's Rock & Roll Show - feat The Zombies & Argent
DATE: Sunday 2nd June 2013
VENUE: Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury, Busks
COST:  £20.00 plus £2.90 booking fee
OUR VERDICT: Hopefully not the last time

This was a last minute booking for us. We found out about this gig the night before heading off to Cardiff for the weekend. Booked on Thursday night, we spent the weekend in Cardiff and had a mad rush back on Sunday for the gig. The gig was Johnny's Rock and Roll Show, with some local bands plus headliners Argent. Teenager Johnny Beer Timms broke his neck while he was attempting a backward somersault on a garden trampoline at the home of a friend in 2011 and is now paralysed. The proceeds from this gig will go some way to help getting the family home adapted to Johnny’s needs in the future.

The Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury is a stunning piece of architecture. It’s very unusual in its shape, and for a change, a new building with real character.

First up was a guitar duo, Danny Prendergast and Jerry Playle who played a nice set of instrumental, classic type numbers to get things underway.

Following on from them we had the first band of the night, The Moon Dogs. This was a blues band featuring the father of the young guy for whom tonight’s gig was a benefit for. We were treated a few classic blues songs that started off with a slow, bluesy take of Chuck Berry’s “Nadine.” Add in a bit of Dr Feelgood and some Jimmy Reed, this was not a bad set at all. For the last number the band were joined by Express Newspapers owner Richard Desmond on drums.

The next act was a young band, Henry Parker and the Velvet Loons. This was when the evening’s event really took off. Henry is an excellent guitarist, and his songs, although certainly hard rockers still managed to sound like great pop songs. Great choruses that really stuck in your head and the set finished with a real old fashioned dual guitars war! This is great band that we’ll be keeping an eye open for more gigs.

Turning the night into a sing-a-long for the first time tonight was part of Marillion, guitarist Steve Rothery and singer Steve Hogarth, whose son Niall filled in on drums. With Hogarth Snr on keyboard duty, they kicked off with the old Marvin Gaye hit “Abraham, Martin and John.” We also had a stripped down “Sugar Mice” by Marillion and a particularly good vocal on David Bowie’s “Life On Mars.” This was a set of songs that the band seemed to dig, as they finished with a rousing, audience participating “All The Young Dudes.” This was a very well performed set with some terrific guitar from the other Steve. Marillion fans will be kicking themselves on missing this gig.

A big and pleasant surprise for us was that the advertised Colin Blunstone set was actually going to be THE ZOMBIES instead. We couldn’t believe our luck. They came on and fired into four songs in a row, without a pause or a word from the band and showed how much they were up for this gig. Colin stole the show again with his wonderful vocals. “What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted”, including the customary fantastic guitar solo from Tom Toomey, had the audience singing along again, and “I Don’t Believe In Miracles” answered the question The Beeb had, of who, if anyone, would actually sing this one tonight.

 Being such a short set, what we got was like a greatest hits show of Colin and The Zombies back catalogue. Having seen The Zombies quite a few times in recent years, a great bonus though was a live debut (for us) of Smokey Robinson’s “You Really Got A Hold On Me” that segued into Sam Cooke’s "Bring It On Home.” Having recorded this way back in 1965, the band certainly dug deep and pulled a cracker out of the hat with this one for sure. The set ended of course, with the perennial radio favourite, “She’s Not There.”

The Zombies
Before ARGENT took to the stage, The Beeb’s night had already been made before the gig when he met drummer Robert Henrit in the foyer and had a chat with him. Argent had been the first band he ever saw live, and over the years, Robert was the only one from the band he hadn’t met. Once again, like everyone else in the band, he turned out to be really nice and generous with his time.

The Marshall stack that had been sitting on stage unused all night was soon called into action by the ridiculously healthy looking Russ Ballard on the opening song “It’s Only Money”. Rod’s virtuoso keyboard playing was highlighted by a rollicking “Keep On Rolling”.

Russ acknowledges the fans in the front row

Just like The Zombies' set, we were given a greatest hits show, including perhaps Russ’s best known song “Since You’ve Been Gone”. “Hold Your Head Up” and “God Gave Rock And Roll To You” once again had the audience singing along with great gusto.

With little time for rehearsal Russ explained, the band came back for an encore and treated us to a song they used to make last 20 minutes in the old days, a cover of Jimmy Reed’s “Baby What You Want Me To Do.” This was a good work out for all of the band who seemed relaxed and happy all the way through the gig.

A fantastic job done, with credit going to a lot of people who made this gig happen for a very worthy cause.

Argent take a well deserved accolade from the audience

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