The Zombies, Odessey & Oracle and Beyond

GIG: The Zombies, Odessey & Oracle and Beyond, last ever UK performance
DATE: April 25th 2009
VENUE: HMV Apollo, Queen Caroline Street, Hammersmith, London, W6
COST: £28.50 plus the usual exorbitant booking fees!
RATING: Zombie Heaven

The weather forecast warned of showers, but Saturday 25th April was a fine, bright sunny day in London town. Following a quick drink in The Blue Anchor, a quaint pub on the Thames riverbank, and meeting up with some friends, we strolled the short distance to the HMV Apollo to see what was the last performance in the UK, start to finish, of the fantastic Odessey & Oracle album.

The merchandise stall was not cheap…. Most of the product could be bought for a much cheaper price (the T-shirts are only £18 on the Zombies website versus the £20 plus £1.50 credit card fee being charged at the merchandise booth). However, many of the CDs and DVDs on sale had been personally signed by the remaining original members of the band, Rod Argent, Colin Blunstone, Chris White and Hugh Grundy and people were quite willing to pay the premium for these.

It was just past 8pm when Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone took to the stage with the Zombies Touring band… Keith Airey on guitar, Jim Rodford on bass and Jim’s son Steve on drums. Rod spent a couple of minutes giving a brief account of the 40th anniversary of the Odessey & Oracle album, before a sound engineer woke up and actually put Rod’s mic on full power!!! At this point, Rod acknowledged Darian Sahanaja, the musical director of Brian Wilson’s band who was providing extra keyboards, mellotron and backing vocals for the bands rendition of the album, thus ensuring every note on the album was replayed exactly on stage. There was obviously a number of Brian Wilson fans in the audience as that brief introduction to Darian, although he was not even on stage at this point of the gig, received a heartfelt cheer and a decent round of applause.

The first half was a mixture of Zombies, Blunstone and Argent songs… kicking off with “I Love Her”. Straight away, Colin’s vocals were outstanding… Minty had goose-bumps at one stage, they were so perfect. Other highlights of the first half were “What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted”, “Sticks & Stones”, “I Don’t Believe In Miracles” and for 2 numbers, a string quintet accompanied Colin on “Misty Roses” and “Say You Don’t Mind”. The closing number was Argent’s “Hold Your Head Up” which had the audience clapping along and resulted in rapturous applause, and a standing ovation as the band left the stage.

Everyone in the band during that first half looked like they really enjoyed being on stage. Keith Airey, in particular, acted out every note he played and was quite fetching in a sparkly waistcoat (so says Jacqui!). The vocal range that Colin has retained is remarkable, being as strong on the high notes, as he is mid-range, and he really seemed comfortable with the whole show.

A 30 minute interval (and believe me you needed that long a break just to queue for the loos – but more of that later) gave us the opportunity to mingle in the foyer and have a beer.

Second set… the whole, complete Odessey & Oracle from start to finish. This was the 3rd time we had seen this show (previous ones being the warm up at the Stables in Milton Keynes and the Shepherds Bush Empire premier last year) and it did not disappoint at all. Rod and Colin, joined by the other 2 remaining members of the original Zombies, Chris White on bass and Hugh Grundy behind the drums, complemented with Keith Airey on guitar and Darian Sahanaja on keyboards / mellotron, and Chris’ wife adding the high notes on the harmonies, and a brass section contributing their bit on some songs, the set began with track one “Care of Cell 44” and went through to “Time Of The Season”. It was perfect.
The brass section must have been real fans themselves. They drove up and down the UK under their own steam to play at all this weeks gigs. Good on them. Chris’ vocal on “Butchers Tale” was superb, and seeing Darian on stage playing what is his all time favourite album, and really making a difference to the harmonies, was a treat.

In Glasgow earlier in the week, the band had done a 3 song encore, but in London, after the standing ovation and after Rod had introduced each member of the band, they all remained on stage and performed those encore songs, “Tell Her No”, “Going Out Of my Head” and “She’s Not There”. What tasty treats were to come as an encore we wondered? After the thunderous applause that heralded the end of “She’s Not There”, the band did leave the stage. A couple of minutes of feet stamping, chants of “more, more, more” they came back out of the wings and performed their final number “Summertime”.

What a fantastic night this was, marred only by a member of the audience sitting behind us who felt the urge to comment to her partner on every song, and was especially loud during the string ensemble’s prelude to “Misty Roses”. After Minty hissed at her to keep it down to a whisper she did shut up. Then in the 2nd half, a group of young girls hijacked the empty seats next to us, and although it was good to see they were having fun, they obviously had not been allowed to drink alcohol on their own before, and kept disturbing the row to go to the loo. One of the girls thought the fact she was the daughter of Hugh Grundy gave her the right to disturb everyone else! She was told to enjoy the show and shut up!

As soon as we arrived back home, the first thing BB did was fire up the PC and order the box set “Zombie Heaven.” BB’s first ever gig was Argent back in 1972. Almost 40 years later and there was as great an impression made on him tonight as there was back then. But he didn’t have flared jeans on this time.

So a fantastic gig.

And the loos? Well, come on Hammy Apollo… you can do better, much much better. Four cubicles and a queue at least 40 deep…. The venue was having a laugh.

PIPELINE Convention 2009

GIG: PIPELINE Convention 2009, featuring The Secrets, The Razorblades, Indra and Move It! Happy Daze, The Foot Tappers
DATE: April 12th 2009
VENUE: Metropolitan Police Sports Club, Bushey
COST: £15 advance ticket
RATING: Standing in the Shadows

Last year on Easter Sunday at the Pipeline Convention, ( we had to scrape the ice from the car. This time it was a glorious spring day. It’s always worrying going to somewhere with CD stalls up and running. You never know how much you’ll spend.

First band up were The Secrets who seemed to include half the folk who write for the Pipeline magazine. They performed a handful of Ventures tunes and also did a great version of the theme tune for the old TV series “Callan.” An unusual addition to the band was the use of a six stringed bass. The set was finished with an excellent version of George Martin’s “Theme 1.”

Things livened up considerably when The Razorblades from Germany took to the stage. Once again, a writer from Pipeline was in the line up. This three piece raised the bar with stonking covers of “Hawaii 5-0,” “Miserlou,” the Godfather theme and The Lively Ones’ “Surfrider.” Their own original numbers were powerhouses and we ended up buying their new CD. They finished off with an old favourite, “Rawhide.” The audience really seemed to like this band.

The afternoon settled down a bit when Indra Rajah and Move It! took to the stage. Indra and drummer Junior Weerasinghe come from that rock and roll hot spot…Sri Lanka! If a Cadburys Cream Egg could make music, it would sound like this band. They are obviously influenced by The Shadows, and came to life a little when they played the William Tell Overture. They did save the best till last when they covered Duke Ellington’s “Caravan” and the drummer drummed the bass guitar!

Happy Daze brought some light relief to the day from the main man in the band, Malcolm Lenny who had a great sense of humour. Malcolm looked as if he could have been Suggs’ dad. He was once a member of The Packabeats who recorded a few singles with the legendary Joe Meek. The band did well for not really having rehearsed much and for being primarily a ‘singing’ band as well, although they did look like the musical equivalent of the TV programmes “New Tricks.” They started off with Red River Rock, and continued with a lot of songs that all managed to sound like Tequila. Problems with the keyboard didn’t dampen their spirit, and they carried on regardless.

Finishing off the day was a group of youngsters called The Foot Tappers. As the name suggests, there was a large selection of Shadows tunes in this set. They did have the benefit of having former Shadow Brian “Licorice” Locking playing bass with them though. This band was very polished, and young Daniel Martin on lead really knows these songs inside out, but the highlight of their set funny enough was Tim Jackson’s drum solo. Normally a drum solo would have me thinking, “Oh no!” But this one was just great. He even managed to get a drum “call and response” from the audience during it. They were joined by Jim Walters on keyboard for a version of Booker T and the MGs “Time Is Tight”. Mark Knopfler’s theme from “Local Hero” helped add to the slight variation from The Shadows fest.

With any event that features guitar instrumental bands, there is always a danger of a constant stream of Shadows soundalikes. Very pleased to say that the organisers of the Pipeline convention, Alan & Dave, really line up a variety of bands. Coupled with a well engineering set up which ensured that, with the unfortunate exception of the keyboard problems during Happy Daze’s set, technical difficulties and sound problems were non-existent and the whole event ran extremely smoothly. This was a good 7 hours of alternating between watching bands playing and sifting through racks of CDs and DVDs for sale, with a spot of lunch taken in the middle and a retreat to the “bar” during an interval to get some liquid refreshment whilst listening to some very good youngsters trying out the guitar karaoke.

And the loos? Well only the ladies were road tested, but these were in fine shape. Maybe helped by the fact that the room was filled predominantly with males so the ladies didn’t have too many visitors! The d├ęcor was pale pink, and quite 70’s with the old type pull chain flush. I suspect the gents were a pale blue…..


GIG: The Beached Boys
DATE: April 10th 2009
VENUE: Tropic at Ruislip, Ruislip Social Club, Grosvenor Vale, Ruislip, Middx
COST: £8 advance ticket
RATING: Fun, Fun, Fun and lots of Good Vibrations

The Beached Boys ( are in our opinion probably the best Beach Boys tribute band around and we have seen them on many occasions. With this gig being on Good Friday, and therefore a day off work, it gave us the opportunity to meet up with some old friends earlier in the evening and have dinner before the gig. Having filled up on pasta and pizza from the local Pizza Express, our 6 strong group headed off on the short walk from Ruislip High Street, to the social club in Grosvenor Vale, picking up 2 other friends on the way.

It was almost 9 o’clock when we presented ourselves at the door. Luckily we had printed the email from the club confirming our advance reservation of tickets as our names had been omitted from the “advance” listing. The club was quite full and we grabbed some chairs from the side, got a drink from the bar and mingled with some of the other people in the room we knew… not just the band and their WAGS (sorry girls, couldn’t resist that one!) but sitting in the audience was a tall man dressed in black, a baseball cap on his head….. it was David Marks, “The Lost Beach Boy”. David was just a teenager when he joined Brian, Carl & Dennis Wilson and Mike Love to form The Southern California band, The Beach Boys. Somewhere down the line, his contribution to the band (he was a Beach Boy during the time the band recorded and released their first 4 albums) had effectively been blurred from the bands’ history. That was set right recently with a book called “The Lost Beach Boy” and he has played once again under The Beach Boys name with Mike Love and Bruce Johnston.

Also in the audience was Charlotte Cooper, a young singer who has been recording a debut album, with David Marks among many other famous names supporting her venture. Charlotte was due to join the band on stage and sing a couple of songs, and David, on holiday in the UK and staying with Charlotte’s family had come along to watch her perform.

The band, dressed in bright Hawaii style shirts and white trousers took to the stage. What we like about this tribute band is that they do not stick just to the classic hits. Of course the classics such as “California Girls”, “I Get Around”, and “Fun Fun Fun” are included, but their set list also includes more obscure, lesser known Beach Boys songs, including album tracks and even some Beatles covers, and this set list was no exception. It included, a Party! Medley of “Mountain Of Love” and “Tell Me Why” and also “Little Honda”, “Breakaway”, “Bluebirds over the Mountain”, “Aren’t You Glad” and after hushing the audience, a wonderful “And Your Dream Comes True”.

After a short interval, the second half started with a change of wardrobe, the Hawaii shirts replaced with the Beach Boys’ early style shirts of blue & white stripes. The band kicked off with a lovely a cappella version of “Heroes & Villains” which was very warmly received by the audience. Charlotte Cooper was introduced to the audience and she performed, “Devoted To You” and “Don’t Worry Baby”.

Then the members of the audience got a real treat, as David Marks was invited up on stage to join the band for a volley of classic early hits, “Surfin’”, “Surfin’ Safari”, “409”, “Little Deuce Coupe” and “Surfin’ USA”. The audience loved it.
How could the band follow that? Well, follow it they did with more hits such as “Do It Again”, “Help Me Rhonda”, “Good Vibrations” and “Barbara Ann” included. At the back of the room, where there was a bit of space, some people danced and jived along.
At the request of one member of the audience, the band played “God Only Knows” and then rounded off the night with an energetic “Do You Wanna Dance”.

So, overall, a thrilling night for Beach Boys’ fans, not only almost 3 hours of Beach Boys music, delivered by a top set of musicians who you can tell really enjoy themselves on stage, but a truly bone fide original Beach Boy on stage with them!

Now, if our arithmetic is right, then what happened at this gig makes as many original Beach Boys playing last night as there are in the Beach Boys touring band today!

And this morning on the Tropic at Ruislip website this was posted for everyone who was there – love it.

We must apologise to all those that were disappointed with The Beached Boys on 10th April.
We are very sorry that you handed over your hard earned cash under the pretext of seeing a Beach Boys tribute band ended up having to see an original member of The Beach Boys (
David Marks) playing on stage with the band. We are assured that he will be returning to America very soon and will try to make sure this happens again.


GIG: Showaddywaddy – The Sun Album Tour
DATE: April 9th 2009
VENUE: The Stables, Stockwell Lane, Wavendon, Milton Keynes MK17 8LU
COST: £19.50
RATING: Betcha Gonna Like It

The first single Minty ever bought was “A Little Bit Of Soap”, a 1978 hit for Showaddywaddy and now, almost 31 years later she was going to see, for the very first time, the band she had idolised during her teenage years, the band whose posters had adorned her bedroom wall. The tickets had been purchased almost as soon as they went on sale so seats, front row, centre had been secured. Last year, the band had travelled to the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis and recorded an album of covers of, well, Sun music and this was a gig to promote that album……

The Stables is one of our favourite venues – it’s a small theatre, owned by Dame Cleo Laine and Sir Johnny Dankworth, seating only about 400 but attracts big names. Previous gigs we have been to at this venue are Midge Ure, Ray Davis, The Zombies, Jimmy Webb, Ian McNabb, Hugh Cornwell, Mari Wilson, Glenn Tilbrook, Joe Brown to name just a few! There are no bad seats in the house, no restricted views, and you can also bring your drinks in with you. The staff are mainly volunteers, locals who support this theatre and they are very courteous and friendly. Sometimes the queues for the bar can be long, but the laid back atmosphere of the place means that you don’t get annoyed with waiting a few minutes…

The original 8 piece band that Minty had idolised way back when, had split a number of years ago, and up until the end of 2008 Showaddywaddy had continued with 5 of the original members, Dave Bartram, Al James, Rod Deas, Romeo Challenger and Trevor Oakes and a 6th member, Danny Willson who has been with the band since 2000. Late last year though Al decided to retire and a matter of weeks before the tour kicked off, Trevor had to leave due to ill health and a new member Paul Dixon had come in to replace him. What would the band sound like now, as a 5-piece and with just 3 original members left?

So, as 8 o’clock approached, we took our seats, Minty a complete bag of excited anticipation. The show kicked off with Misserlou, a Dick Dale surf instrumental which resurfaced in the film Pulp Fiction. After a couple of songs, Dave explained the format of the show, The Sun Album in the first half, the hits in the second and punctuated throughout by some interactive Q&A’s from the audience. And that’s how the show played out.
It was the first time we had heard any of the Sun Album songs, and ones that stood out were “Drinkin’ Scotch”, “Claudette”, “Flyin’ Saucer Rock & Roll” and a wonderfully soulful version of Charlie Rich’s “Who Will The Next Fool Be”.
The hits were the old favourites from 1974’s “Hey Rock & Roll” through to the 1979 hit “Remember Then” with the likes of “Pretty Little Angel Eyes”, “Under The Moon Of Love”, “Dancin’ Party”, “When”, “You’ve Got What it Takes”, “Heartbeat” and “I Wonder Why” and “A Little Bit Of Soap” in between.
The Q&A’s were good – the band has a great sense of humour, especially when one lady yelled out to Dave “I used to love you when I was 13”, to which Dave quick wittedly replied “What’s wrong with me now?”. I asked the band what the first single they bought had been, and the answers ranged from The Jam’s “Goin’ Underground” from Paul, to Rod saying a Cliff Richard record, Romeo claimed to have forgotten, Danny’s was a record by The Move and Dave revealed his first record was by Billy Fury.

Dave Bartrams’ voice seemed quite fragile throughout the show, and he seemed to struggle to get the sound out sometimes. I suppose the fact these guys have been on the road for quite a while promoting the Sun Album would take its toll on your voice.

It was a shame that the band didn’t come into the foyer afterwards, as so many of the other artists we have seen at the Stables have done, and mingle with the fans and sign CDs and have photos taken etc, But that did not spoil the night for us. Minty went home happy, with a copy of the Sun Album and a mini poster signed by the 3 original members given with the CD.

And to the customary last words… on the loos….. always seem to be in demand which means that not only is there the usual queue for the Ladies, but an orderly queue tends to form outside the Gents as well! The flushing can be a problem at peak times (as one person exits and the next one in the queue goes in, there is an apologetic smile and an “I’m sorry, it won’t flush” quietly exchanged). BUT, they are very clean and well stocked.

The Beatniks

GIG: The Beatniks
DATE: March 24th 2009
VENUE: The Boars Head, Piccotts End
COST: free, but donations in the bottle to keep live music going was appreciated
RATING: Polished performance (and great loo)

The Beatniks are Den Pugsley and Jamie Cook from The Overtures ( who specialise in the music of the 60's including great artistes such as The Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Who, Hollies and Simon and Garfunkel.Recently back from Liverpool where they performed at the City's 800 year Celebrations, The Overtures have performed at The London Palladium 5 times, performed for Sir Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello, Sir Bob Geldof, Dave Gilmour and Sir David Frost and were honoured in December 2005 to be asked by Elton John and David Furnish to be the entertainment at their Civil wedding Ceremony in Windsor.

The above write up was from and drew us to travel the mile from home to see this duo.

No need for a drummer, drum machine or other audio “helps” to keep the beat and rhythm going; these guys cover everything using just an acoustic guitar and a bass guitar. Their repertoire was mostly 60’s covers, ranging from The Searchers, to The Kinks, The Who, a few Beatles (Rubber Soul was the album of the day), the Rolling Stones, Simon & Garfunkel, Elvis’ Suspicious Minds… you name it, they knew it. A couple of more “recent” tunes were thrown into the set - Crowded House, “Weather With You” and The Stereophonics, “Handbags & Gladrags” (although I suppose that really originated a couple of decades before for Rod Stewart and before him Chris Farlowe).
No original material, but these guys are very polished. Their voices blended perfectly whether it was belting out Paint It Black, or the more mellow harmonies of The Sound Of Silence. They knew what songs they were doing, and they played and sang them brilliantly.

For a Tuesday night, the pub was packed. The punters almost drank the pub dry; ran out of Fosters, no Carlsberg on tap (but then again, that happened last time we were there, so maybe not so exceptional?). The Boars Head is a lovely little cosy pub with a bubbly barmaid who knew all of the regulars. Oh and the toilets in this place cannot be faulted!