I’ve been to quite a few concerts on the nostalgia tours for both the 1960s and 1970s, and for this decade, the 1970s, I have seen Showaddywaddy, The Rubettes, The Sweet, and others.
Tonight, it was the turn of four artists bundled together under the Legends Live label – Smokie, Les McKeown’s Bay City Rollers, David Essex (I’ve seen him before in musicals, Aspects of Love and War of the Worlds), and Suzi Quatro.
First we were treated to a half-hour appearance from Smokie, a band which has had several member changes and its fair share of tragedy (second singer Alan Barton, who had previously sung for Black Lace, died in an accident on tour in the 1990s). Their biggest hit remains Living Next Door To Alice, a cover of the song by Australian band New World, and they closed their set with it.
The current band is Mike Craft (vocals), Michael McConnell and Terry Uttley (lead and bass guitars), Martin Bullard (keys) and Steve Pinnell (drums).
The Bay City Rollers were huge for a couple of years in the mid-1970s, and Rollermania covered the country with tartan. Singer Les MacKeown now fronts his version of the band, while an alternative tours utilising the name ‘The Bay City Rollers’.
No matter, as MacKeown still has his fans, and classic bubblegum pop like Shang-a-lang and Be My Baby retain their ability to transfer memories to more innocent days, and get audiences on to their feet.
David Essex, now in his 70s, white-haired and still retaining hints of his Plaistow accent, has attained huge success on record, in the theatre, and on film. His fifty-minute set has quieter moments (It’s Gonna Be Alright), theatrical bombast (Oh, What a Circus from Evita), biker chic (Silver Dream Machine) and pop fun (Gonna Make You a Star). Essex cuts a fine figure in a neat suit, waistcoat and shirt, and his voice eases back into the confidence he had as a blue-eyed idol back then.
The little girl rocker from Detroit, Suzi Quatro, is celebrating fifty-five years in the business this year, and before she took to the stage we were treated to a trailer for her “Greatest Hits” album.
She’s still recording, and in performing to her recent single No Soul/No Control‘s music video as back-drop at one point, she’s happy to acknowledge the passing of time. Whether dancing in her leathers, offering solos on her bass guitar and on the drums, or conjuring up memories of her early hits Can the Can and Devil Gate Drive, Suzi Q remains first and foremost an entertainer.
This was a decent concert, over three hours, and able to please fans of a range of ages. My husband betrayed his knowledge of Rollers lyrics, and even though I was a mere baby at the start of the decade, the 1970s are a time of some great music on the cusp of rock and punk.
Legends Live 2019 continues until the 16 April, taking in Birmingham, Liverpool and Bournemouth. Attendees can be assured of a good time.
Photo credits Colin Penn. Short videos (which hopefully give a bit of flavour!) by Louise Penn.