A Fine Review By Mike Lewis Of The Group's Appearance At The Colston Hall, Bristol...

The people of Bristol and the South West have been entertained on the site of Colston Hall since 1867. Now there is a new vision for the City's Concert Hall. Development is now underway to transform Colston Hall into an international centre for the widest variety of music.

Despite the improvements the fact remains that Bristol has been allowed to lag behind nearby Cities like Cardiff and Bournemouth which have seen huge, impressive custom built halls emerge in recent times.

44 years ago, 25 September 1960 to be precise. The Colston Hall was a prime venue. It is a significant date because that is precisely when The Shadows appeared without their lead singer (a bloke called Cliff) for the very first time. I'd seen them with Mr Richard but nobody had seen them without him for a whole show before.

One month previously Apache had hit the number one spot and changed the whole pop scene. Suddenly every group had three guitars and drums. Success was judged by the quality of the guitars. To start with they were probably Futuramas. If the quartet had longevity (lasted for more than a year) they would turn into Fender Strats. I was a drummer, so my Broadway kit transformed into Trixon and then into Ludwig.

My wife and I toddled off to the Colston Hall the other night, 3 June 2004, to see the (alleged) Final Tour of The Shadows. The event sold out within days and a second date had had to be quickly added. What an achievement. 44 years on and still selling out! Just sit down and think what you have done in that period of time. Just imagine going to see The Darkness in 2048!

After buying the tickets the months before the concert were tinged with many anxieties.. Would the lingering rift between Hank and Bruce cause the show to be cancelled? According to several media sources this was a possibility. We should have known better than believe the press!

We rolled up at The Colston Hall 45 minutes early. Already the place was teeming. Plenty of time to look at the merchandise then. As this is the final show I'd better add to my assorted collection of Shadows / Hank Marvin mugs and T Shirts. What? 25 for a plain black rugby shirt with a tiny Shads monogram! Don't think so, I'll get a mouse mat instead - just 6.

The souvenir programme was also 6. Not bad value compared to some I've seen and full of some good pictures and a great article by Malcolm Campbell. I know that name. Of course I've got his Shadows books. My wife even got one autographed as a birthday present a few years ago.

After a long delay (we never found out why) we got into our seats about 15 minutes before the scheduled start. Nice set. Good lighting rig, probably the best I've seen for The Shads. Oh Brian has got his name on the bass drum again, that's a throwback. Still plenty of activity from the stage crew I see, maybe that was the cause for the delayed entrance.

After a humorous introduction from Bobby Aitken applause greeted our heroes. Thank God for that, none of them needs a zimmer frame!

The first notes of Apache filled the air. That's against the usual script. Surely that should be a planned encore. Cleverly the false start turned into Riders In the Sky, and immediately that familiar sound that had played such a vital part throughout my life filled the rather more aged Colston Hall once more.

Relief! Hank and Bruce were as one and the rest followed. The world was looking good again. How could I have ever doubted the professionalism of the gathered musicians? I've not missed a single Shads or Hank tour to visit Bristol during the 44 years, but it was important that, if this was to be the last, it was a great memory.

I won't detail the 40 odd numbers that followed, you can read Malcolm Campbell's excellent detail of the show at Scarborough for that. The two sets were identical and didn't contain one disappointment for me. What I will do is say is The Shadows have never sounded better. All the classics flowed and many were given 2004 facelifts, some of which we'd seen materialise over the 'Hank Years'.

I loved Shazam and Sleepwalk and Shadoogie. I was engrossed in the Cliff medley, particularly Please Don't Tease and Gee Whiz It's You. I enjoyed Brian's Little B, although, even as an ex-drummer, I thought it was 3 minutes too long. Nothing disappointed me. Nearly 3 hours of pure heaven spent with old friends. Hanks virtuosity, Bruce's rhythms (well done on The Savage particularly, my arthritic wrists wouldn't have stood that).

Interestingly The Rise and Fall of Flingel Bunt was played in it's original format and sounded great. I make the comment because the updated version played by Hank and son Ben brought this old favourite to new heights that appeared to leave the original cowering in the corner. Not so! Old Flingel had the place rocking once again.

The evening flew by and 10.40 brought mixed emotions. Happiness that the boys had given me immeasurable pleasure once again, but enveloping sadness that I would (probably) never witness seeing them live again. In turn that brought the thought process around to the 44 years once again. So much water under the bridge in my life had always been bridged by either The Shadows or Hank Marvin in concert. Now that was over.

You can keep your Beatles, Oasis, Queen, Darkness or whoever. The Shadows will always be my number one. In youth they gave us thousands of young musicians something to hang our hats on and in their 'late middle age' they still gave us something to look up to and admire.

Thank you Hank, Bruce and Brian. I'm sure you wouldn't want us to forget Mark and Cliff, Jet and Tony, John, Alan and Licorice and all the others who have joined the ranks of The Shads over the years.

Hank or Bruce. If you're ever in Bristol and fancy a cuppa, just drop in! We may need a pot or two of tea because I will have 44 years to talk about.

Right, let's get all those Shadows singles and tapes and CDs and have a great day of nostalgia at home!

ML, 2004

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