"The Final Tour" 2CD Set / DVD / VHS by The Shadows
These releases are reviewed by Alan Taylor in Pipeline Issue 66 (2005) p.46.
Apache (Intro) / Riders In The Sky / The Frightened City / Theme For Young
Lovers / Peace Pipe / The Savage / Let Me Be The One / The Stranger / Kon-Tiki
/ Going Home / Dance On! / Nivram / Lady Of The Morning / My Home Town / Guitar
Tango / Geronimo / Sleepwalk / 36–24–36 / Shazam! / Don’t Cry For Me Argentina
/ Equinoxe (Part V)
DVD / VHS Track listing equivalent to the two CDs combined
During 1959 The Drifters — who in July of that year would change their name to The Shadows — were associated primarily with Cliff Richard, for whom they provided musical backing and with whom they toured the UK, Scandinavia and Germany. However, it wasn’t long before the emphasis changed. In 1960, although they continued to work closely with Cliff, they found that they were in demand in their own right: with the spectacular success of what would become one of the most imitated instrumentals of all time, Jerry Lordan’s Apache. Everyone was talking about The Shadows, and in September of that year the group were on stage in Bristol without Cliff Richard.
In fact, both of these aspects of their music-making, studio work and live appearances, were very much in evidence during what many would regard as their Golden Period, the early years of the 60s. In addition to high-performing albums and EPs, a host of classic singles of the genre appeared in rapid succession: Man Of Mystery (1960), FBI, The Frightened City, Kon-Tiki, The Savage (1961), Wonderful Land, Guitar Tango, Dance On! (1962), Foot Tapper, Atlantis, Shindig, Geronimo (1963), Theme For Young Lovers, The Rise And Fall Of Flingel Bunt (1964). Concurrently, as well as performing regularly on radio, TV and in pantomime, they really came into their own as a touring band, with and without Cliff: for example, in March 1961 they recorded their first live set in South Africa, while the closing months of that year saw them perform at the famous Paris Olympia (to which they returned frequently), to a rapturous reception. Indeed, it is true to say that by the end of 1961 they were regarded with adoration, not only by record-buyers, but also by countless aspiring guitarists desperate to emulate that magical Shadows sound.
At the same time, the group’s contribution to the success of Cliff Richard’s imposing array of hit records over much of the 60s can hardly be underestimated. Not only was the accompaniment they provided second-to-none, but a good many of the songs were composed by group-members: the dazzling Gee Whiz It’s You, the smash hit Please Don’t Tease, the movie theme Summer Holiday, and many others.
The period of uncertainty that followed the disbandment of The Shadows in 1968 was resolved in due course by the recruitment of Australian John Farrar to form the trio Marvin Welch and Farrar, specialising in vocal harmonies in the broad style of Crosby Stills and Nash. Their two albums excited widespread critical acclaim both for the performances and for the superlative quality of the self-composed songs. There was a problem though: audiences expected Shadows’ tunes, and demand was such that they reformed in 1974 to record; then, in 1975, The Shadows represented Britain in the Eurovision Song Contest, coming second with a lively number which would become part of their concert set, Let Me Be The One. Soon after, in 1977, the million-selling compilation album 20 Golden Greats took them back to the top of the charts. From 1978 to 1980, three hit singles followed: Don’t Cry For Me Argentina, Theme from the Deer Hunter and Riders In The Sky, three tracks that formed the basis of their No.1 album String Of Hits.
Throughout the 80s the band enjoyed continuous chart success with all their albums achieving either gold or platinum status. Specialising in instrumental versions of classics from that decade they produced, amongst others, a blistering rendition of Jean-Michel Jarre’s Equinoxe (Part V) and the glorious Going Home, written by Mark Knopfler, an ardent admirer of Hank Marvin’s guitar technique. Live versions of both tracks are included here.
When in the autumn of 1990 The Shadows concluded their last concert tour, this also appeared to mark their final disbandment: the three core members, Hank Marvin, Bruce Welch and Brian Bennett, went their separate ways. Through the 1990s, it looked increasingly improbable that they would ever reform; then, in 2003, the decision was taken to mount a Final Tour.
It came as no surprise that once the tour was announced, fans the world over flocked to obtain tickets, so much so that extra venues had to be arranged to cater for the excess demand. The Shadows, Hank, Bruce and Brian, with Mark Griffiths on bass guitar and Cliff Hall on keyboards, kicked-off the tour on April 30th 2004, and the reception was tumultuous. How could it have been otherwise? Here, against all expectations, was the UK’s first supergroup, the most durable by far, back on tour after well over a decade.
A Final Tour demands something special, and that is exactly what the group delivered: they power their way through a staggering forty-one numbers in a programme of almost pure nostalgia, clearly glorying in the experience. All the big single hits are here, from Apache through to Riders In The Sky; There are also B-singles, the mellow Peace Pipe contrasting well with the jaunty 36–24–36, well-loved album tracks such as Shadoogie, Gonzales and Little ‘B’, the Eurovision stomper, representative examples of Marvin Welch and Farrar and last but by no means least a run of seven group-composed gems originally recorded by Cliff in the 60s. This is a classic Shadows’ performance, complete with all their trademark ingredients.
Perhaps though the most remarkable aspect of this very extensive programme is the sheer number of brilliant and varied compositions. There is no repetitive formula at work here, which is one reason among many why The Shadows have endured and consistently gone from strength to strength. The performance presented here is one further testimony to their lasting appeal and musical genius.
MC, August 2004
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