Frankie Ford

The Marvelettes

Bobby Vee

Del Shannon

Bo Diddley

Rick Nelson




live review







London Albert Hall

THIS EVENT, the Regal Rock and Blues Reunion (no less!), was masterminded by one Richard Nader. With greying hair and a glittery T shirt which read 'Rock'n'Roll', he opened the show with a eulogy about “seeing history”. This created an unfortunate although not unexpected air of glutinous grovelling.

Poor Frankie Ford, bottom of the bill and consigned, it seems, to remain merely a minor legend among major ones. He waved dutifully and a wristful of jewellery slid out from beneath the cuff of his piercing blue suit. His 15 minutes were enjoyable if workmanlike. "Here it comes," whispered a person behind me, excitedly. And it came. Frankie 'Sea Cruise' Ford played 'Sea Cruise'. Everyone was happy.

The one original and two new Marvelettes were dazzling in their dresses of sequins and plunging necklines. They were a perfect (physical) exercise in style without (much) content, quite brazenly, magnificently, sexily so. During the second song, the elder Marvelette lumbered (in that dress she had no choice) into the crowd to gather a punter and drag him to the stage.

The unfortunate fellow was the inimitable ageing Ted. Also a Duane Doberman (from Bilko) lookalike. A Marvelette divested him of his jacket while the other two fingered his shirt buttons. He didn't know whether to laugh or dribble. Instead he danced, the Earth moved, and he drew a great roar of approval. I think I began to levitate.

Bobby Vee started singing in the wings and had shaken the hands of Row One (I was in Row Three so I can still wash) before reaching the stage. He had hairy arms and wore an inane grin. He maintained this expression throughout and thanked us – profusely – for his 25 years in showbiz. I dozed unashamedly.

In contrast, Del Shannon had a gloriously gaunt face and still carries the aura of oddness and mystery indicative of the bonafide 'rocker'. He sang like a demon and, despite being a little unsteady on his pegs, seldom pandered to an audience by now seriously crazed on nostalgia.

Bo Diddley did nothing – save to occasionally burst into songs which possessed the velocity and might to vaporise buildings. Mostly he just waved his guitar and winked at his band. An old man, he wisely conserves his strength, dishing out just enough to titillate the faithful.

Rick Nelson was the only member of tonight's entourage whose music and outlook is any way 'current'. His half-hour of old and new songs was low key but zestful. Country rockers blessed with simplicity and unhysterical passion. In this setting his modesty was a delight – and a relief. Nelson is 45, alive and spitting with the vitality of a young vole. He saved the night.


mick sinclair

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