GIG: Jersey Boys
DATE: Saturday 3rd November 2012

VENUE: Prince Edward Theatre, Old Compton Street, London
COST: £37.50
OUR VERDICT: Oh What a Night

Whilst in London, on this fresh, autumn afternoon, we popped into the theatre box office on the off chance there were some discounted tickets available for the matinee show, and our luck was in.

Seated in the Grand Circle, the seats were a tiny bit cramped, but we had a terrific view of the stage. The show itself was brilliant. After the bad expereience of seeing the Beatles show a few weeks before, this was a real West End Show. It is not a case of a show to fit around a bunch of Four Season's songs.... it is the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, with the music complimenting this. The change of sets, was very slick, the costumes authentic and the New York accents and singing from the cast were absolutely spot on. There were two drummers during the show, and we think they had the best fun, being wheeled (seemingly by remote control) around the stage as the sets changed, and coming up and down from below the stage.

This show really made you think that there is a great film to be made of this groups rise to fame. The storyline was warm, funny and poignant at times too. In fact, Bob Crewe deserves a movie of his own!

This is what a West End show is all about. The audience loved it all. We loved it all.

A closing word about the theatre. The price of the ticket included a £1 charge towards the restoration fund, and it is in dire need of restoration. More toliets would be a bonus, and ones that flush, even better!


GIG: Let It Be
DATE: Saturday 13th October 2012
VENUE: Prince Of Wales Theatre, Coventry Street, London
COST: £60 (plus really extortionate booking fees £17)
OUR VERDICT: Could have seen the same show for a tiny fraction of the price

The Prince of Wales Theatre, at one end of London’s Leicester Square is a really comfortable theatre. The seats are soft and have plenty of leg room compared with many other London theatres.

We were in the third row for the Saturday matinee and on either side of the stage were a large radio and large TV mocked up in 60’s style. As the theatre started to fill, the TV screens flashed up a series of Beatles questions with multiple choice answers for the audience to test their Beatles knowledge. This should have been taken as the first sign of the “cheap” production to come, as there were spelling mistakes (feaures, instead of feature for example). The questions were fairly easy to guess - Minty, not being a Beatles fan got the majority of them just through a bit of common sense! During the show, the screens were used to “broadcast” the actual performance in an authentic black and white 60’s hue, changing to colour as the later part of the decade kicked in. Rather annoyingly, the “broadcast” had about a 2 second time delay so the film did not match with what you were actually hearing.

The first half took us from the early days at The Cavern (no sign of the Germany era) through to Sgt Peppers time, and the second half from the Magical Mystical Tour to Abbey Road. Whilst the band were OK, they were supported in the second half of the show by a keyboard player to generate the majority of the instruments needed (strings, brass etc).

Be warned though, this is NOT a theatre show. It is just a straight forward tribute band trawling through a selection of the Beatles back catalogue in (near) chronological order, with changes of costumes. They may have dressed like the Beatles, albeit with very bad stick-on moustaches in the second half, but the only one who truly resembled their Beatles counterpart throughout the entire show was George Harrison. That being said we could not really see Ringo until the end when he ventured from behind the drum kit!

There was nothing wrong with the band themselves – they played and sang well enough, but considering all the audience got was a basic tribute band with no dialogue, no story, no ad-libs and not much inter-action with the audience  (limited to asking us to clap along or stand up) it was really quite appalling. 

The one bit that worked well was an acoustic section that finished with George's acoustic "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" Anthology version. But even this version was a bit wasted as it changed half-way to the electric version. There was a great opportunity to really rock out here, but a rather insipid, 'going through the motions' lead, put paid to that idea!  

West End prices for what you can see in a pub for ten quid is not on. It's going to catch a lot of unsuspecting tourist out we reckon. Our tickets were bought before the show started it's run. If we'd seen any of the reviews beforehand we'd definitely have skipped this one.

The real shame is that the band are fine, it's just that this is a very bad idea for a London West End theatre show. The tickets cost as much as a Paul McCartney gig!

We'd have been better going to see Jersey Boys.
Backdrop to the stage at the end

The end of the show


GIG: Chris Isaak
DATE: Saturday 6th October 2012
VENUE: Civic Hall, Wolverhampton
COST: £30 plus the usual daylight robbery service charges of £4.75
OUR VERDICT:  Charismatic Isaak

Supporting Chris Isaak tonight was a guy called Paul Freemen, from Wales – just him, an acoustic guitar and harmonica on that big stage. He gave us the best part of half an hour of his own material. He also demonstrated how there are only eight notes and the same chord progression, he strummed his guitar with no variation while doing a medley mash up of about half a dozen songs which included “With Or Without You” and “Don’t Stop Believing”. Funny enough, he was right!!!

Chris Isaak wows the audience

A short interval and at 9pm, Chris Isaak and his band took to the stage, Chris dressed in a light blue sequinned suit and the band in black. The whole ninety minute show was very slick, with some choreographed formation dancing (in Shadows style) thrown in. The guitar changes were seamless, and the good relationship between Chris and the band was really evident with everyone on the stage having just as much fun as the audience. When Chris addressed the audience in between songs, he was extremely charismatic, putting Wolverhampton in the same league as New York and Paris, and encouraged everyone to take photos, saying “I didn’t get all dressed up NOT to have my picture taken!”. Cameras were then released!!

Our seats were towards the back, near the sound desk. If there is one place to sit in a hall, it’s near the sound desk as you tend to get the full benefit of the sound. Our ears were certainly spoiled. As the stage is very high at the Civic Hall, we also had quite a good view. The sound tonight was absolutely spot on. You could hear the full richness of Chris’ voice, the tinkling of the piano, and the various percussion being played alongside the usual drum beat, bass line (sometimes an upright double bass) and guitars.

At one point, Chris asked his drummer, Kenney Johnson, to “play something pretty” and then came down from the stage and into the audience, and whilst still singing, proceeded to shake hands with everyone near the aisle. We thought we’d been transported to an Elvis show! The women loved it, including the one who lunged forward from her place in the rear stalls, almost climbing over people to get to the aisle to get a photo, but alas, Chris was already on his way back to the stage before she managed it!!!

“Blue Hotel” was played early on in the set, along with “Pretty Girls Don’t Cry”. “During “Dance of Love” the audience got to their feet and the guitarist, Hershel Yatovitz did a choreographed dance during the chorus. Hershel also had a stint off stage, working his way up the left side, through the gap between front and rear stalls to the middle aisle and back again, much to the thrill of the crowd.  “Wicked Game” attracted an audible sound of pleasure from the audience as it started and a huge volume of applause and whistles at the end. It did sound terrific.

Isaak’s latest album, "Beyond the Sun"  is a Sun records tribute and once the roadies moved the piano from the back of the stage to the front left, we were treated to some fine old rock and roll and tunes from that great label, kicking off with “Ring of Fire”, and a couple of Elvis numbers, “Can’t Help Falling In Love” which showed Chris’ romantic side as he asked the audience to hold the one they love during it, and “It’s Now Or Never”. By this time we had left our seats and were in the middle aisle as close to the stage as we could get (no heavy handed security at all and everyone was good natured) and caught a fabulous rendition of “Great Balls Of Fire” with stage smoke and flames pouring out of the piano to compliment the on-fire piano playing.

When the set finished, the audience pounded the floor with their feet, demanding Isaak’s presence back on the stage and Chris re-appeared in a silver mirrored suit, dazzling us all with an encore which included a superb version of “Pretty Woman”.

The encore, wearing his mirrored suit

(L-R)Bass player Roly Salley, drummer Kenney Johnson and guitarist Hershel  Yatovitz harmonise

As the encore finished, Chris took in the enthusiastic applause and turned his guitar around to show the message “Thanks a lot” to the crowd.

Chris thanks the crowd

Chris Isaak is a really gracious man, not only demonstrated through his thanks to the audience, but after the show, he spared some time to meet fans gathered outside by his tour bus. He made time for everyone, signing tickets, photos and stopping to have his picture taken with anyone who asked him, including us. We had a fantastic night.

The Beeb and Chris

Minty and Chris

The Beeb swaps guitar picks with Hershel


GIG: Danny Bhoy
DATE: Friday 5th October 2012
VENUE: The Stables, Wavendon, Milton Keynes
COST: £15 (and no booking fee!!)
OUR VERDICT: Laugh out loud funny


The Stables is a great venue, where no seat is a bad seat and heads don’t really get in the way of your view, and that makes it a fab place to see any entertainment act, music, comedy….

Tonight comedian Danny Bhoy was appearing as part of his “Wanderlust” tour. The venue was almost sold out, just a few seats left empty as we settled in for eighty minutes of constant laughter.

Obviously we are not going to reveal the content of his stage show as this would only spoil it for those who are yet to see the rest of the tour, but suffice to say, it was very well written, linked together, absolutely hilarious, the content striking a chord with many of the audience which made it even more funny. His show is well paced, with pauses in all the right places which allowed us to have a good laugh without missing the next gag!

Minty could listen to DannyBhoy’s voice for the rest of eternity, his soft Scottish lilt entrancing to say the least! His interaction with some of the audience (those who were a tad late and found their seats after the house lights had gone down, the girls munching on big bags of crisps and Ryan, the young lad in the front row with the Beiber hairdo) shows he is a funny guy, not sticking to a script all the time and has no hesitation in bringing the audience into the fold.

The Beeb couldn't resist letting Danny Bhoy know that he wasn't the only Scotsman in the venue, sounding very much the scary Glaswegian, which created a lot of laughter as Danny Bhoy retorted to the shout out!

Eighty minutes is a long time to thrill an audience with comedy and even longer nowadays for anyone to sit still in the audience but the time just flew past and before we knew it, Danny Bhoy was doing his wrap up, weaving everything together and leaving the stage to a rapturous applause.

A brilliant show. Go see it.

The tour flyer


GIG: The Beach Boys
DATE: Friday 28th September 2012
VENUE: Wembley Arena, London
COST: £55 plus wildly extortionate booking fee of £7.88
OUR VERDICT: Phenomenal final show


It was quite bittersweet that the first Beach Boys concert Minty went to (circa 1986) was at Wembley Arena and tonight’s concert, at the same venue was the very last time we would be able to see the surviving members playing together in harmony. The last time Minty saw The Beach Boys play Wembley Arena, (around 1989), half of the venue had the seats blacked out and the arena was less than half full. Tonight there was hardly an empty seat (including the VIP seats in the first 20 rows that didn’t sell and were released for general sale a couple of weeks before the gig at half price!).

The Arena was packed

Mike Love
 Just to remind you all, the front line is the five surviving Beach Boys, Brian Wilson, Mike Love, David Marks, Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston, along with Scott Totten, from the Mike and Bruce touring band,  and Jeff Foskett who toured as a Beach Boy during the 80’s, and is also Brian Wilson’s right hand man in his own touring band set up. The back line have a real musical pedigree, with members of Brian Wilson’s touring band, Darian Sahanaja, Mike D’Amico, Probyn Gregory, Scott Bennett, Nelson Bragg, Paul Von Mertens and the drummer from the Mike & Bruce set up, John Cowsill.

Not a bad picture considering how far away we were!
Our seats were up in the Gods, but that meant we had the option of standing or sitting down, unlike those on the main arena floor who had no choice but to stand for the full length as those at the front stood up, out of their seats from the very first drum beat to “Do It Again” pounding through the sound system.

The backdrop to the stage showed some great video - this one of the waves

The set list was only marginally shorter than last night with just a mere fifty five tunes  -  “Little Girl I Once Knew”, “Marcella”, “Good Timin’”, Still Cruising”, “Our Prayer” and “Let Him Run Wild” being omitted tonight.

Sometimes had to use the screens....
Once again, the sound was awesome, and the two screens either side of the stage showed the film being shot of the concert, so for those of us up in the Gods, we could see some close up views. We are at great risk of repeating what we wrote about last night’s Albert Hall gig, and we would be spot on if we were to just copy and paste that review!

Brian Wilson
Highlights for us tonight were Brian’s vocal on “Please Let Me Wonder” and “You’re So Good To Me”. He really got into “Heroes And Villains” and he beamed all the way through “California Dreaming”. 

"Add Some Music" never fails to disappoint us, and Brian was very comfortable performing this tonight.

Mike Love was the quintessential front man, dressed in his gold sparkly jacket, but with a white shirt tonight. His vocals sounded spot on through the Wembley sound system. Bruce was a bit weak on “Wendy” but “Disney Girls” got a rapturous applause.  

Darlin' by Darian Sahanaja

Darian Sahanaja singing “Darlin’” was just wonderful again and yesterday’s lump in Minty’s throat turned to glassy eyes as the videotape for “Forever” and “God Only Knows” with Dennis and Carl on the leads was played for the last time.

Dennis Wilson - Forever

Carl Wilson - God Only Knows

The songs from the new album “That’s Why God Made the Radio” and the new single “Isn’t It Time” really shone through and the album’s final track, “Summer’s Gone” made it into the main set tonight, sounding awesome once again. The videotape projected on the big screen above the stage of a setting sun was so fitting.

During the encore - Fun Fun Fun

People around us laughed as The Beeb sang the “hum de dums” on Good Vibrations but again, no-one else joined in! There was certainly a lot of love in that arena tonight and a lot of fun had on stage, including Scott Bennett jumping on the grand piano for a bit of “Surfin’ USA”.

First Half
1.    Do It Again
2.    Little Honda
3.    Catch A Wave
4.    Hawaii
5.    Don’t Back Down
6.    Surfin’ Safari
7.    Surfer Girl
8.    Please Let me Wonder
9.    This Whole World
10. Wendy
11. Getcha Back
12. Then I Kissed Her
13. You’re So Good To Me
14. Kiss Me Baby
15. Isn’t It Time
16. Come Go With Me
17. Why Do Fools Fall In Love
18. When I Grow Up To Be A Man
19. Dance, Dance, Dance
20. Darlin’
21. Disney Girls
22. It’s OK
23. Cottonfields
24. Be True To Your School
25. Ballad Of Ole’ Betsy
26. Don’t Worry Baby
27. Little Deuce Coupe
28. 409
29. Shut Down
30. I Get Around

Second Half
31. Pet Sounds
32. Add Some Music
33. Sail On Sailor
34. Heroes & Villains
35. I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times
36. California Dreaming
37. California Saga
38. In My Room
39. All This Is That
40. That’s Why God Made The Radio
41. Summer’s Gone
42. Forever
43. God Only Knows
44. Sloop John B
45. Wouldn’t It Be Nice
46. Good Vibrations
47. California Girls
48. All Summer Long
49. Help Me Rhonda
50. Rock & Roll Music
51. Do You Wanna Dance
52. Surfin’ USA

53. Kokomo
54. Barbara Ann
55. Fun, Fun, Fun

THE BEACH BOYS - Albert Hall

GIG: The Beach Boys
DATE: Thursday 27th September 2012
VENUE: Royal Albert Hall, London
COST: £95 plus wildly extortionate booking fee of £9.50
OUR VERDICT: Phenomenal


The Tour logo
Excitement had been building all week in anticipation of seeing the surviving members of the Beach Boys reunited in the UK for the penultimate show of their 50th Anniversary World Tour. We figured we would be in for a great show, especially when we saw that they had brought the big screens with them to give us the total Beach Boys experience with videos being played to accompany the songs. When the house lights were turned down at about 7.45pm a great cheer erupted from the expectant audience who filled every seat (just about) in the Royal Albert Hall.

The front line is the five Beach Boys, Brian Wilson, Mike Love, David Marks, Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston, along with Scott Totten, from the Mike and Bruce touring band  and Jeff Foskett who toured as a Beach Boy during the 80’s, and is also Brian Wilson’s right hand man in his own touring band set up. The back line have a real musical pedigree, with members of Brian Wilson’s touring band, Darian Sahanaja, Mike D’Amico, Probyn Gregory, Nelson Bragg, Scott Bennett, Paul Von Mertens and the drummer from the Mike & Bruce set up, John Cowsill.

The Beach Boys are in their seventies now (except for the baby in the band, David Marks!), have been on a gruelling world tour since April and at times during the show Mike and Bruce’s vocals were a bit weak, and Brian missed a few words here and there, but overall the sound was just fantastic (that two and a half hour sound check paid off!!). Everyone on stage looked like they wanted to be there, putting to one side the reports of discord and disappointment following Mike Love’s ill-timed recent press statement (why he couldn’t have waited until after the tour had concluded to tell us what we already knew, we don’t know!).

The show kicked off with a strong drum beat from John Cowsill and dressed in black trousers and shirt with a gold shimmery jacket, front man Mike Love’s dulcet tones came through “It’s automatic, when we talk with old friends …….” with the aptly titled “Do It Again” starting the set which delivered a non-stop, high energy ride through the back catalogue with an amazing 61 songs being performed. Without pausing for breath, the surf medley followed and it was great to hear “Don’t Back Down” included.

Nelson Bragg adds great percussion

David Marks taking the lead on “Getcha Back” was brilliant to hear and the harmony from the rest of the band, just superb. Al Jardine got a great reaction from the crowd on “Then I Kissed Her” and was by far the one with the strongest vocal. Brian Wilson took the lead on many of the numbers, including “Please Let Me Wonder”, and “Marcella”. On the latter, backing band member Scott Bennett’s vocal was very audible and sounded incredible but the song was lacking the real guitar rock out we have seen in past Brian Wilson solo tours and we wondered how even more energetic the show would have been had the backing band been able to add more of their individual flair to the set!

A charity was being supported (Operation Smile) throughout the night and a rather moving video of a wee girl with a cleft lip being remedied played while the Beach Boys sang “Kiss Me Baby”. It appeared at the start of the song that the Boys were a bit unsure who was supposed to take the lead on this song!

Brian Wilson
Next up was a track from the recently released album, and we got the radio edit of “Isn’t It Time” which sounded great and got a good reaction from the audience, especially bearing in mind many of them may not have been familiar with this song.

Another surprise in the set was “Come Go With Me”, again with Al Jardine on lead and the audience were really appreciative of hearing that one. The band nailed the next song, another Doo Wop classic, “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” with some fantastic harmony to close the song off.

A technical hitch seemed to befall Scott Bennett during “When I Grow Up To Be A Man” as he lost the sound on the keyboard, but this did not detract from the overall performance of the song and he was back up and running for the next tune!

Darian Sahanaja
A real highlight was seeing Darian Sahanaja in the glare of the supertouper as he took the lead on “Darlin’”. He sounded amazing and dressed in a really smart suit and tie for this gig, he looked marvellous too.

Bruce sings Disney Girls
“Disney Girls” is a gentle, soft song, and with minimal instrumentation (the only guitar being played was from backing band member, Probyn Gregory) and Bruce Johnston delivered a sweet vocal. The audience reaction at the end was brilliant.

“It’s OK” was a bit of a disappointment as Mike Love’s voice was quite ropey and someone with red pom-poms bounced about in the first row as “Be True To Your School” was sung, and snapshots of The Beach Boys at Hawthorne high flashed up on the big screen behind. When a picture of Carl Wilson (who passed away on 1999) flashed up the audience gave a big cheer.

Scott Totten shone through with his falsetto on “The Ballad Of Ole’ Betsy” and played some smouldering solo guitar on the 90’s song “Still Cruising”.
The CEO of falsetto - Jeff Foskett

By this point we had been treated to twenty nine songs and the first half was rounded off with a further five songs, a car medley beginning with the CEO of falsetto, Jeff Foskett, giving us a perfect rendition of “Don’t Worry Baby” and ending with a rapturous “I Get Around”.

We did spend much of the first half having fun, playing “spot the bass guitarist” as Mike D’Amico took turns behind the drum kit for some songs (we thought maybe to give John Cowsill a break and allow him to pace himself for the monumentous set!) and Probyn Gregory (very talented multi-instrumentalist) took on bass duties. 

Mike D'Amico
Other times, Mike was nowhere to be seen at all and Probyn had firm control of the bass guitar! There was no Nicky Wonder to play baritone guitar, so Probyn also stepped up and played way up the neck instead. That meant for a number or two we had TWO basses.

David Marks
The start of the second half seemed to catch much of the audience off guard for some reason (even though the announcements told us the band would be back in five, then three minutes!) and they missed out on a hint of James Bond theme before delivering a brilliant “Pet Sounds”, with David Marks on the lead guitar. David’s guitar work was brilliant and it’s just a shame that not everyone made it back to their seats in time to hear this in its full glory. Mike D’Amico was on drums for this one and sounded great. The lights dimmed and when the lights went up again The Beach Boys were gathered around Brian Wilson’s grand piano and our ears were blessed with a beautiful version of Add Some Music. You couldn’t fault this and Brian looked very comfortable and extremely happy. Indeed all through the second half Brian just beamed with delight and really enjoyed his time on the stage.

Mike Love
“Our Prayer” just oozed harmony, and surprised us with being in the set, given Mike’s apparent reluctance to appreciate anything SMiLE related. The SMiLE theme continued with Heroes & Villains, even including the “you’re under arrest” shout out. The best reaction for Brian came at the end of “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times” when the audience refused to let the show go on, until they had given a full standing ovation and extended cheers. His rendition of the song from his masterpiece album “Pet Sounds” justifiably deserved that accolade as he sang it beautifully.

Scott Totten took the lead on “Let Him Run Wild” and then Al Jardine stepped up to the mike for “California Dreaming” and “California Saga”.

Brian Wilson was very animated through “All This Is That”, a song from the Carl And The Passions, So Tough album, inspired by transcendental meditation and the harmony was really lush. This was one of the best versions we’ve heard.

The grrreat BRIAN WILSON!
Another song from their new album followed, this time the title track, “That’s Why God Made the Radio” and the band got it together tonight and nailed this one, without a doubt. There is so much harmony and sound in this song, your ears melt!

Then we got the experience many of the US fans got during the US leg of the tour – The Beach Boys taking a back seat and adding only backing harmony as the big screen above the stage played video of Dennis Wilson singing “Forever” and then the same for Carl Wilson singing “God Only Knows”. It was truly a moving experience and during “God Only Knows”, Brian played accompanying piano all the way through. There was certainly lumps in our throats and can only imagine how Brian must have felt watching his little brothers up there on the screen.

Probyn thrills on Good Vibrations

Then it was back to the high energy songs, and from this point on, no-one sat down. From “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” onwards, everyone was up and dancing in their seat. The Beeb did the obligatory “hum dee dums” along to “Good Vibrations” which made the people around us laugh (sadly no-one joined in) and the second half rounded off with high octane “Surfin’ USA”.

But the audience would not let go of this special band so easily and the encore was “Kokomo” followed by “Barbara Ann” where Brian moved out from the comfort of his grand piano, and plucked his bass guitar. 

Brian plucks his bass
“Fun, Fun, Fun” rounded off that encore and people who were starting to leave were stopped in their tracks as, after a bit of on-stage discussion, the opening notes from the final song on their new album were heard. We were amazed to hear “Summer’s Gone”, with Brian providing the perfect vocal. This left us with such a warm glow, and was the best way to end the show.

Take a bow
The audience loved it all

First Half
1.    Do It Again
2.    Little Honda
3.    Catch A Wave
4.    Hawaii
5.    Don’t Back Down
6.    Surfin’ Safari
7.    Surfer Girl
8.    The Little Girl I Once Knew
9.    This Whole World
10. Wendy
11. Getcha Back
12. Then I Kissed Her
13. Please Let me Wonder
14. Marcella
15. You’re So Good To Me
16. Kiss Me Baby
17. Isn’t It Time
18. Come Go With Me
19. Why Do Fools Fall In Love
20. When I Grow Up To Be A Man
21. Dance, Dance, Dance
22. Darlin’
23. Disney Girls
24. Good Timin’
25. It’s OK
26. Cottonfields
27. Be True To Your School
28. Ballad Of Ole’ Betsy
29. Still Cruising
30. Don’t Worry Baby
31. Little Deuce Coupe
32. 409
33. Shut Down
34. I Get Around

Second Half
35. Pet Sounds
36. Add Some Music
37. Sail On Sailor
38. Our Prayer
39. Heroes & Villains
40. I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times
41. Let Him Run Wild
42. California Dreaming
43. California Saga
44. In My Room
45. All This Is That
46. That’s Why God Made The Radio
47. Forever
48. God Only Knows
49. Sloop John B
50. Wouldn’t It Be Nice
51. Good Vibrations
52. California Girls
53. All Summer Long
54. Help Me Rhonda
55. Rock & Roll Music
56. Do You Wanna Dance
57. Surfin’ USA

Encore 1
58. Kokomo
59. Barbara Ann
60. Fun, Fun, Fun

Encore 2
61. Summer’s Gone