Touring – reviewed at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre
Their sound is one that I’ve grown up hearing my parents play on their old turntable and one of my all-time favourite songs is ‘Don’t Throw Your Love Away’, it’s in my top ten of all time best loved singles and would easily make it to my Desert Island Discs list. They may be a band who were formed in the late 50s (20 something years before I was born) but when I listen to their back catalogue of classic hits, I know I was born in the wrong era.
The Searchers topped the bill at the Sixties Gold Show which was one of the highlights of my reviewing calendar last year and it was there that they announced their intention to retire. I cried and it has taken me time to come to terms with the fact that they mean it. However, they’re going out with the biggest bang with almost all their tour venues sold out and limited seats remaining where tickets are still available.
At the Stafford Gatehouse Theatre they played a two-hour concert to a full house packed to the rafters with fans and it was glorious. The best atmosphere imaginable and I’m still buzzing now (and wishing I could beg a ticket to another gig before they wave goodbye on 31 March). The Searchers have transcended decades and I’m not ready for them to retire yet.
The four-piece is compiled of bass player Frank Allen who joined the band in 1964, Scott Ottoway who started drumming for them back in 2010, the extraordinary lead vocalist and guitarist Spencer James who has been with the band for over 33 years and the legendary John McNally who is the remaining founder member. I’m transfixed by the talent of all four of the boys, they’re exceptional musicians. However, McNally can’t help my draw my attention, especially when he plays the 12-string guitar. His witty retorts and banter with Allen make for an entertaining evening too, in addition to their brilliant trademark sound and sing-a-long opportunities.
From popular hits such as ‘Walk In The Room’, ‘Sugar and Spice’, ‘Needles and Pins’ and ‘Don’t Throw Your Love Away’ to a couple of Buddy Holly tracks and a fantastic version of ‘Running Scared’, originally by the late great Roy Orbison – a concert from The Searchers is a real treat. I’m not ready for them to retire, I respect the fact that they feel it’s time, but that didn’t stop my bottom lip from wobbling once the final medley had been played.
There’ll never be another band like them, they’ve transcending decades and generations and will be missed by their peers and fans alike, I’m sure. If you can grab a ticket to see their final shows, you’ll not regret it, I promise. www.the-searchers.co.uk/dates
Spencer James from the band will be touring with a solo gig so make sure you buy your tickets for that, all the dates and venues are here: spencerjames.biz/spencer-james-solo-shows