Phil yer boots. Praise de lawd, a bumper crowd coming in to Essex to Witham Public Hall, to see the return of Phil Haley and His Comments to Jump Back Boogie. Early December and the warm up to Christmas, what better way to beat the shopping blues than a shot of straight ahead Rock n Roll? DJs for the night were resident Adrian Waters and guest Gary Little, and with a dancing crowd in, the floor was well populated throughout. Some top tunes in there folks.
The band, well they speak for themselves, four chaps on the toppermost form musically and vocally. Naturally, there’s a ton of Bill Haley, from the best known like ‘Shake Rattle and Roll’ and ‘See You Later Alligator’, along with a cracking version of ‘Goofin’ Around’, ‘Live It Up’ and ‘Better Believe It’. The authenticity of the sound is uncanny, with Allan Parish blowing up a storm on the sax during ‘Calling All Comets’
It’s interesting that ‘Talk To Me’, their own track recorded in Australia several years ago, slots in perfectly, almost as it would have come from the Comet’s back catalogue. Was there even a new song or two in there too?
A top night at Witham’s premier venue.
Mischief! are two brothers, Patrick and Daze van der Erf and Richard Verhule on drums, that blend perfectly (testament to so many years playing together). Daze is one of those guitarists who bends a mean string, and as well as singing, bounces and dances around on stage while playing.
‘Doin’ Alright’ rocked the house to open with, then the two brothers harmonised on ‘Sweet Lovin’ Kind’. There’s something about brothers doing harmony, it always seems spot on, and that was born out in ‘Hey Mae’, ‘Heartaches By The Number’ and ‘This Little Girl Of Mine’ . ‘Blues Stop Knocking’, ‘Trapped Love’ and ‘Heart Of Stone’ all vied for attention too in a memorable set. Top stuff (although no ‘Hello Blues’ this time).
There’s familiarity in the set, the reworking of Hank’s ‘Please Don’t Me Love You’ is now a solid dancefloor jiver from the ‘Sanity’ album. Indeed that title track was part of the show, benefiting from Mischief! masquerading as the Jets on harmony. ‘Fancy Dan’ barely stops with a ‘brrrt’ before it quickly becomes ‘Bo Diddley’. A broken guitar string bought on a searing piano boogie woogie tune ‘Stewy’s Boogie’, and a kick a*se take on the Jiants ‘Tornado’ was cymbal splash-tastic. Loving it all.
So with Roland playing to the hardened regulars until the conclusion, so ended an era. Personally, speaking for both June and I, it’s so sad that one of our favourite clubs has closed. Our first gig there was to see Charlie Gracie in September 2005, and for the first few times we visited the club, we came in from a different direction. Well in excess of 120 gigs later (for us), the club had been the go to venue each month, and most of them you could have read about in the Bettajive Review. In 2018, the Village Hall will be hosting bi-monthly record hops, check listings for details.
This event represented the second that the club had put on, the first being a well attended gig, we’re told, featuring Miss Annie and the Midnight Shift. And the crowd and then some, turned up for this one, on a freezing cold night.
DJs for the evening were DJ Retroman and Tom Cat Jump, tag teaming on the decks, focussing on some serious jive and stroll throughout. The main event took the stage, to quite the vocal welcome, and launched into ‘Rockin’ Rollercoaster’. Lead singer Nobby, is your perfect frontman, with his enthusiastic vocal style and personality that engages well with the audience. He’s flanked by top sax blower, John Wallace and lead guitarist Zac Zdravkovic. In the engine room, keeping the rhythm, Ricthie Crabtree on upright bass and Damien Claridge on drums.
This show was probably the first in a number of years we have seen the Jive Romeros play in a club environment, in the two set format. So they mixed up their regular show standards with some of their lesser played tunes. Of course it wouldn’t be a Romeros show if it didn’t include ‘London Rock’, ‘Does My Baby’, ‘Let’s You And I Rock’ for example. Nobby was given a break as John Wallace eased through a super smooth version of Henry Mancini’s ‘Shot in the Dark.
Haley’s ‘Be By Me’,‘Hey Then There Now’ and ‘Mambo Rock’ filled the floor, and the King Brothers’ ‘Si Si Si’ is a cracking sing-along tune. Snooky Lanson’s ‘Hey Stop’ topped it off for the first set, with the crowd prepared for more already.
Set two, picked up where the first set down, with ‘Rip It Up’ setting the tempo with ‘Don’t Knock The Rock’ and ‘Buona Sera’ hot on the heels. With Jackson Sloan in the house, it seemed rude not to get him up for a couple of numbers, ‘Hide and Seek’ among them and also former Bedrocks singer Adele, giving ‘Flip Flop and Fly’ some welly.
Back with the usual personnel, Tommy’s ‘Build Up’, Vince Riccio’s ‘I Still Love You All’ and Boyd Bennett’s ‘The Most’ rounded off an excellent show. With the calls for more, there was only one song that could have finished it off Romero style. ‘Here Comes The Green Light’!
Our first visit to the club, and highly enjoyable it was too. There were sound issues which I’m sure will be ironed out in future gigs. A friendly atmosphere, good crowd and venue, and above all, a grade A night out in the Midlands.
Above are four weekenders. Three of which are already well established, and always deliver. Hot Rock and Boogie is a new one on us, and it looks a good line up.
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Cheers til next time