Donovan starred in the evening concert at the Empire, telling whimsical stories of The Beatles. He is the Hurdy Greedy Man as he was charging £5 for autographs. Whenever I see Tony Sheridan, I can see why he should have made it and also why he didn’t. All Right Now and Yesterday were excellent but his songs usually last too long and the compere Billy Butler had difficulty getting him off stage. John Lennon’s original band, The Quarry Men, have a goodtime skiffle set and don’t underestimate their lead vocalist Len Garry. If he’d not left the scene, he could have fronted a hit-making Mersey band.
On Sunday morning, I was at the Pier Head for the local blues band, Connie Lush and Blues Shouter. She is large, ballsy woman and her powerhouse, 10 minute version of Feeling Good incorporated snatches of Summertime and Hit The Road Jack. “Because you should all be in church”, Connie sang some gospel music. Superb stuff.
No messing about with The Lightning Seeds, who completed 15 songs in an hour including You Showed Me, Pure and The Life Of Riley. The sound was exceptionally good and Three Lions (introduced as “a sad song”) was superior to the single because Ian Broudie didn’t have to share vocals with Baddiel and Skinner. The Argentinean Dios Salve A La Reina (God Save The Queen) were an exceptional tribute band with both Freddie Mercury and Brian May lookalikes and every detail cleverly worked out and recreated.
Of the new Liverpool bands, I loved seeing Santa Carla with influences including Brian Wilson and Sparks, and their lead singer, Nicky, in a black bodice looked stunning. Some hairstyles that hadn’t been round since the 70s were out in force for Zombina and the Skeletones: the last of the Mohicans, you might say. I love their frivolity of their music but it has substance too.
Tiring of bands shouting out “Hello, Liverpool”, I spent a couple of hours at the Beatles Convention at the Adelphi Hotel where Mark Lewisohn’s guests including Donovan and Tony Sheridan were present but not always correct. The stalls were doing brisk business and how many people realised that the person selling tours of the Casbah Coffee Club was Pete Best’s brother, Rory. On another stall, the promoter Sam Leach was signing his book of Beatle reminiscences. I was astonished by the stall for Azing Moltmaker’s books. The man may have written 34 books about The Beatles but are they any good? “Of course they are,” he retorted, “There is nothing to criticise in any of them.” Would that I had his confidence. The amazing Azing has another 20 in the pipeline. The Beatles’ music was played on a full-size harp by Daniel Jordan from Spain and on two accordions by the Russian band, Puttin’ On The Beatles Style, but while I was at the Convention, I missed a Pier Head set from X Factor star, Tabby. I can’t tell you how disappointed I am. I can’t, so I won’t.
In the evening, it was the “European premiere” of a new musical play, The Cavern Club, written by Mark D Yates. I am wary of criticising anything written by a bouncer, but this was more like a tribute to Pan’s People than the Cavern, and certainly I never saw skimpily dressed females there. The music from Zero 8 was good and consisted of songs by anyone famous who happened to play in the Cavern in their formative years. They were introduced tortuously – “Wherever she is, I hope she’s in the pink” – was a cue for Lily The Pink. An old lady dies while singing My Sweet Lord and when her grandson exclaims, “Hey Nan, I bet you looked good on the dancefloor”, the band plays The Arctic Monkeys. As for treating Imagine as a comedy narration, words fail me. Perhaps I should have gone instead to the Beatle venue, the Grosvenor Ballroom, which was staging Tracing The Roots with Carl Chase, Tramp Attack and Hughie Jones from the Spinners, an ambitious production about the start of rock’n’roll.