Ipswich Regent welcomes Sensational 60s Experience

Mike Pender. Picture: DAVID REDFERN

Mike Pender. Picture: DAVID REDFERN - Credit: Archant

Weighing in at more than 60 dates between October and this June, The Sensational 60s Experience is just about the biggest show dedicated to the music of that decade. This time, the line-up is colossal, with five acts.

They include Chris Farlowe, of Out Of Time and Handbags and Gladrags fame; Mike D’Abo, formerly of Manfred Mann and writer of Handbags And Gladrags as well as Build Me Up Buttercup; and Mike Pender who co-founded The Searchers and sang on all their classic hits such as Sweets For My Sweet, Needles And Pins and When You Walk In The Room.

They will be backed by The New Amen Corner, who will be performing the hits of the Welsh band such as Bend Me Shape Me and If Paradise Is Half As Nice. Hermans Hermits, stalwarts of the tour in past years, will play hits like I’m Into Something Good, No Milk Today, Silhouettes and There’s A Kind Of Hush which still getting the crowd on their feet and singing.

The Fortunes - whose hits spread over the 1970s, with You’ve Got Your Troubles, Here It Comes Again and Storm In A Teacup - are making their second appearance on the tour. As guitarist and singer Mike Smitham tells me, they nearly did the very first tour almost a decade ago.

“Another tour came up and we did that instead. We made a mistake there. The Geordie Boys (promoters Alan Wearmouth and Billy McGregor) always put on a great show and they always look after the bands. The worst part of it is the travelling as I do all the driving,” he laughed.

New Amen Corner. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

New Amen Corner. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

This sentiment is echoed by Mike Pender.

“I still enjoy the touring, but not the travelling. I still look forward to any sort of 1960s show as they’re always a success. It’s because of all the hits. If you can’t get a crowd to enjoy all those great songs, then that’s the time you give up.”

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The chirpy Liverpudlian, now 76, shows no sign of wanting to do that.

“I don’t feel my age, in fact I don’t think about it; it’s just a number. I’ll go on for as long as I can.”

Herman's Hermits. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Herman's Hermits. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

He sometimes goes out with his own band – The Mike Pender’s Searchers - but not as often as he used to.

“This tour is the sort of gig I prefer doing these days. It’s difficult when you have your own band when the members are spread around the country. The logistics can be a problem.”

Luckily, he has The New Amen Corner behind him on this tour.

“I met them on the recent Bringing Back The Sixties Tour I did with them, Chris Farlowe and Mike D’Abo. They’re a great bunch and fantastic musicians.”

Listen to Chris Farlowe in the Sensational 60s Experience at the Ipswich Regent. Picture: CONTRIBUTE

Listen to Chris Farlowe in the Sensational 60s Experience at the Ipswich Regent. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

Although Mike has done quite a number of this sort of tour before, he hasn’t appeared on The Sensational 60s Experience previously.

“I’m really looking forward to it as the promoters (Alan and Billy at Stageright Promotions) are lovely guys. I’ll be doing about half-an-hour so I’ll squeeze in as many hits as I can, plus the chat which people seem to enjoy.

“I usually also do one surprise song – on my last tour it was Solitaire; Searchers’ fans always seem to request it. I can’t tell you what it’ll be this time, but I try to make it a show-stopper.”

With a career of more than 55 years, Mike has many highlights.

The Fortunes. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

The Fortunes. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

“Going to the movies to see The Searchers with John Wayne and thinking at the time it would be a great name. That really stands out, but for a little while I thought it was a little corny.

“Other stand-outs were giving up my job as a book-binder to go to Hamburg. That could have all gone wrong, but when we got back Tony Hatch contacted us and put us in the studio to records Sweets For My Sweet. The rest is history. Going to America in 1964 and appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show is another great memory.

“A personal memory was meeting a girl in The Cavern Club in 1962. The following year, I was about to go around the world touring and I asked her to marry me - and we’re still married today.”

See The Sensational 60s Experience at the Ipswich Regent March 3. There will be the chance to win a guitar signed by all the acts.

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