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March 2004
The Solid Silver '60s Show - The New Theatre
Stars of the show
Stars of the show

The Solid Silver '60s Show

The New Theatre
Oxford
Wednesday 24 March

7.30 pm

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By Susan Biggin

This show is in its 19th year, and word has got around: the audience was eager for its nostalgia. Against a Carnaby Street backdrop, the Manchester-based Dakotas provided the evening's backing as well their own hits. Remember Bad to me and Little children?

After the opening, on cruised Wayne Fontana, also Mancurian but looking like a Mexican boss, with his white suit and ample girth. It was Wayne who set the evening's musical hall tone, with quips about waistlines and bladders. The audience looked its age, its greasy quaffs and rhinestones set off by greying temples and walking sticks (honest!).

Even so, their enthusiasm abounded for the golden-tressed Brian Hyland, over from California. Brian churned out 12-bar standards to get in the mood. Things speeded up with Slow down, and his performance was capped by Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny … from 1960.

After the interval, John Walker (Walker Brothers) came on, a Peter Cushing-Mr Pickwick hybrid in green velvet and gold specs. Also Californian, he soon forgot Oxford's rain, displaying his classy treacley vocals in hits like Make it easy on yourself.

With the audience primed, on bounced Peter Noone. It could have been 1964, year of I'm into something good with Herman's Hermits. Maybe it was his country yokel act and yellow thatch, but Peter had what it takes: teenie-boppers began writhing in the aisle, while a bunch of 50-somethings burst up to the front to drool. Peter's routine was jammed with numbers like No milk today and There's a kind of hush, and won a standing ovation.

I was also struck by The Dakotas' Mike Maxfield, "on lead guitar since 1962". Have they really been doing this for 40 years? But if one musician stood out, it was Toni Baker, on keyboard for the group. For me, his ability and versatility outsoared the rest.

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