Sunday, 3 February 2008

Entertainment! 4

The Return of the Kings

It’s been a while since I last saw Bill Wyman and the Rhythm Kings. I had previously enjoyed their concerts at Darlington, York and Harrogate but after the last one it was announced in various places that they were to retire from touring. Fortunately, this has clearly not been the case and I was pleased indeed to catch up with them again at Harrogate on 25th January.

The line up of the Rhythm Kings is usually in a state of flux; more so on the CDs but there are always slight variations between tours. This is the first time I’ve seen them without Mike Sanchez. Georgie Fame was absent too so the keyboard duties were very ably taken by Geraint Watkins.

Dennis Locorriere, the ‘voice of Dr Hook’, was a brand new Rhythm King and he seemed genuinely delighted to be on board, ‘singing the songs I always wanted to sing’.

There was no support and the Rhythm Kings took to the stage just after 8.00 p.m. Bill Wyman came on first and introduced each member of the band as they appeared, one by one.
The versatility of the band was well demonstrated by the fact the first five songs featured different vocalists. The changes in personnel led to changes in the chosen songs too. Some were taken from the earliest of their CDs and were ones I had not heard live before. Indeed, their whole repertoire appeared very fresh.

Bill Wyman’s talents on bass guitar are of course very well known; less so, his vocal skills but he took the lead on several songs including ‘You Never Can Tell’ and ‘Green River’ (fun was made of how appropriate the latter was due to his cold).

Other Kings who have been ever-present over the four shows I have seen are Terry Taylor (guitar), Albert Lee (lead guitar), Beverley Skeete (vocals), Graham Broad (drummer), Frank Mead and Nick Payn (horns/flute/harmonica/percussion).

It all makes for a very easy-going musical experience, with Bill and others often telling little stories before the songs, such as meeting Chuck Berry, or why they decided to cover a particular song.

After an hour or so the band took a short break and then came back to do another session. They returned again for an encore, the highlight being a well-chosen duet with Beverley Skeete and Albert Lee on The Everley Brothers classic ‘Cryin' in the Rain’.

Then suddenly, at 10.30 p.m, it was all over for another show. Hopefully they’ll be back another time. Meanwhile it would be great to see another new CD; it seems a very long time since 2004's ‘Just for a Thrill’.

Keep an eye on the tour dates over at:

Death of a Clown

I’m sure most of us were taken by surprise by the death of Jeremy Beadle, at just 59, last week. It is difficult to remember the last time was on TV though; I suppose it was assumed he was always working on his next project.

For many, he was the man they loved to hate - a smug joker and champion of the annoying wind-up.

However, I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon in his company a few years ago when he visited The Links Primary School. I was a Governor there at the time and this gave me the opportunity to get to know him a little better and see the man beneath his TV persona.

I revised my opinion of him throughout the day. He gave an excellent school assembly during which he spoke a bit about his career and how he started as a writer for stars such as Willie Rushton before one day appearing on the other side of the camera. He patiently took lots of questions from a large number of children, but first made sure that he asked their name and then spoke a little bit about them. For example, he related to a ‘Becky’ that she had a famous namesake the book ‘Vanity Fair’ and to an ‘Alexander’ he told a brief story about Alexander the Great.

At the end of a busy day he happened to walk into the school hall during my after-school chess club. Without any prompting, he happily sat down to play some of the children and stayed for the full hour.

I speak as I find and I found Jeremy Beadle to be an impressive and erudite man.

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