I was well aware that Peter Noone, their original lead singer hadn't been in the band for at least 45 years and that the line-up would be different, but it was nothing if not a fascinating evening.
The first band on was Union Gap UK. Robert, my pal, who is a lawyer, pointed out that this could be a legal wrangle over names and that Gary Puckett was clearly absent.
They knocked through some good numbers although it was pretty clear that 'Young Girl' possibly their best-known hit with Puckett, was sung in a lower key than he managed in their heyday. But the musicianship couldn't be faulted it must be said.
Then on came The All New Amen Corner, which obviously means that they aren't the original Amen Corner, not that I could remember anything they did to be honest, but again they were like a very good covers band.
I'm sure one of their numbers had been done by The Rubettes in the 70's, but anyway it was all fun. An original singer then came out called Steve Ellis, who'd been with the band Love Affair and he had a good voice, but curiously very little stage presence and at the end of his set said "Well, I can't tell jokes very well, so that's it" and he wandered off. The All New Amen Corner finished the first act.
I forgot to mention that there was an MC who was one of those 70's style comics who told old jokes and managed to keep it all going while the roadies changed various set ups.
I must say that I always laugh at those comics and quite like them. He had a good gag about sprinkling viagra into your tea. Didn't help your love life much, but when you dipped your biscuit in the tea, it didn't go soggy.
Anyway the really good act - in my opinion - was Chris Farlow who came on with some presence, berated Dunstable for not having a railway station (as he'd had to get the train to Luton) and generally made everyone laugh as well as singing 'Out Of Time' and a few others in much the same way as we remembered it. He did look as if he'd been at the Jack Daniels for a few years since I'd last seen him, but that endeared him to me even more.
Then it was wrapped up by Herman's Hermits, who's only original member was the drummer who'd notched up 51 years with them. Although it wasn't Noone singing, they did a good set and one does tend to forget how many hits Herman's Hermits had as just about every song was known to us.
They ended with a rip-roaring version of 'I'm Henery the Eighth, I Am' (check out the original drummer) which truly appalled Robert although I quite enjoyed it, but then again I do play in a comedy jazz band whereas he plays in a rock band.
So, all in all, it was a good night, but it was carefully manufactured nostalgia, though that's not a criticism it's just an observation. I play in a band myself - The Bolivian Sunshine Dogs - who do a fair amount of Bonzo Dog Doo Da Band material amongst our set, although the difference being is that we make no pretence to have any connection with the original Bonzo's and nor do we view it as nostalgic.
"Our motto is to go out and have fun, but just slightly less fun than the audience. It seems to work and when it doesn't we'll pack it in."
But for all that, the audience, who were middle to old aged, loved it and were up on their feet, or those who could manage it were at any rate. An old lady next to me was vigorously banging her zimmer frame to the beat of 'Mrs Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter' which was quite delightful although I had to be a bit swift of foot to avoid injury.
So the success of the evening was that they all played what their audience wanted in much the same way as they remembered it. And as I dropped Robert off at his house, he walked towards his back door, surreptitiously looked around and burst into the chorus of 'No Milk Today'.
Ah, nostalgia, you can't beat it.
Until next time ...
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More about David Pibworth ...
David is the owner of David Pibworth Productions (DPP) which provide corporate entertainment and also actors for corporate training and development.
Having worked in the Light Entertainment field for many years and produced shows for Al Murray & Joe Pasquale amongst others, David is in a position to advise on well-known comedy and musical acts. DPP also represent Ray Galton and Alan Simpson's scripts which include Hancock's Half Hour and Steptoe and Son.
He is the director of MK Theatre of Comedy who are very well known locally for their stage adaptations of classic comedy scripts such as Fawlty Towers, The Vicar of Dibley, Allo Allo and many others.
He is a long-standing member of Equity and the Directors Guild of Great Britain and has acted in, and directed, many productions over the years, mainly in Light Entertainment, but with occasional forays into Shakespeare etc. Every Christmas he is contracted as an Ugly Sister in Cinderella, currently with 'That's Entertainment' who also use him as a director.
He teaches eccentric magic for The Pauline Quirke Academy and MKTOC also run a youth drama school in Olney from the DPP offices.
David maintains his busy lifestyle is a surefire way to avoid being on any committees. He is married to Julie, and they have one daughter, Esther and live in Clifton Reynes, surrounded by dogs, cats and horses. They live so close to the church that David has instructed his daughter - when he dies and not before - to fire him over the wall from a circus cannon.
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