Review: The Searchers, Spa Pavilion, Felixstowe, June 11
PUBLISHED: 10:56 13 June 2016 | UPDATED: 10:56 13 June 2016
From the first strains of Sweets for my Sweet to the final Needles and Pins medley, The Searchers had the audience singing and clapping along.
The first surprise of the evening was compere Mike Read, former Radio 1 DJ, who “just happened to be in the area”. The second was an extremely youthful and vibrant performance by a band celebrating 54 years on the road.
They came on to a mysterious green light beamed across the stage with pulsating hues of red – I did wonder if they’d be spectacularly beamed down from above. Alas no, just a standard walk on, however there was nothing standard about their performance.
The whole night was packed with their biggest hits but also cleverly woven in B sides and album tracks including Have you Ever Loved Somebody, 48 in the charts back in 1966. The 500-strong crowd at the Spa were enthusiastically appreciative of their entire set.
There were also songs including the Byrd’s Hey Mr Tambourine Man with Searchers front man Frank Allen explaining it was a big thank you to them as once Roger McGuinn admitted to the press “without the Searchers there would be no Byrds”.
There were also tracks from the early Beatles when they were Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers with My Bonnie and another note of thanks to John Lennon who once generously said “the best track around at the moment is Sweets for my Sweet”.
One of the more recent additions to the Searchers, Spencer James - only 30 years ago - brought the house down; showing rich vocals with his rendition of Roy Orbison’s Just Running Scared.
The band described the Big O as “the greatest ever to tour with” and “such a gentleman” after touring with the great man.
By far the most popular nod to another 1960s icon was Searchers founder John McNally’s incredible musicianship and vocal parity, singing Buddy Holly’s Peggy Sue and Oh Boy – showing skilful use of a 12-string guitar and the audience replying with a rousing “My Peggy Sue” on cue.
It was great to see the whole band doing a meet and greet in the foyer at the end of the night. Perhaps that’s why they still have such a loyal fan base after more than 50 years since hitting the big time.