Here is a brief and selective personal view of the music performed in the course of the afternoon and evening slots at Shadowmania, Lakeside Saturday 3 September 2005. All the photos have been kindly supplied by Angélique von Söhsten, and more can be found by following THIS LINK – many thanks Angélique! In addition, you can now find an excellent report on this event on Cazz's ShadowsFanSite by following THIS LINK.

LEGEND have earned a fine reputation among Shadows followers. They specialise in Shadowmusic from the Burns period, and got this latest mega-event off to a flying start when they strode on to the stage with those striking white guitars and proceeded to hammer out BRAZIL, the punchy opener to the 1965 LP The Sound Of The Shadows. Their set was studded with similarly pulsating, toe-tapping numbers, bringing back vivid memories of a group which, in the face of the onslaught from waves of vocal beat groups, could still attract music-lovers from all over the world: TEMPTATATION (one of the most exhilarating tracks in their whole extensive repertoire) and the bouncy ZAMBESI for example. Surely no one who lived through this period could forget the interest occasioned at the time by The Shadows’ experiments with different styles and sounds: Legend here treated an appreciative audience to pounding versions of THE WAR LORD and STINGRAY, with a lively version of the Japanese-sourced BOMBAY DUCK thrown in for good measure.

The 1967 LP From Hank, Bruce, Brian And John failed to chart and is not mentioned all that often in Shadows circles, yet it contained some fine instrumentals. Some had strong Japanese associations (the group visited Japan that year), and this applies to the three played here: THE WILD ROSES, EVENING GLOW, and the Graham Gouldman stomper NAUGHTY NIPPON NIGHTS. Notable on the mellower side were the exquisite FRIENDS and LADY PENELOPE. There was also a mid-paced original from the pen of David Martin, MEAN STREETS, a nice title for an expressive number.

Midway the group was joined by Brian Locking, who came out of the shadows some while ago now to wow audiences everywhere with his fine musicianship. The trademark harmonica was in evidence of course, with DAKOTA drawing a big cheer, but the standout in my view was BLUE SHADOWS from the same source, the 1964 LP Dance With The Shadows,and now also available on CD by Mr Locking himself: here the harmonica imported a fresh bluesy feel to a number which, notorious for being one of the very few tracks from the group available in mono only, is surely undervalued in the context of the album as a whole.

Legend featuring Brian "Licorice" Locking

Legend have graced Shadowmania before. After a short break there emerged a group new to the event, and they took the place by storm. Indra Rajah is lead guitarist of INDRA AND MOVE IT, one of the tightest and most imaginative groups ever to have emerged on the Shadows circuit. Make no mistake, this player is hot property, as indeed is the entire combo. Here Strats are the order of the day, but in fact, as far as The Shadows go in this particular set, Indra & Co. drew mainly on the early years and the Burns period mentioned above, and homed in on some of the less familiar numbers from this era: as a great opener MAIN THEME (much underrated this) neatly prefaced by a snatch of MOVE IT!, the contemporaneous THE DRUM NUMBER, and three crackers drawing on the riches of the first and second LPs, THEME FROM A FILLETED PLACE, TALES OF A RAGGY TRAMLINE and BIG BOY, all of them delivered with astonishing assurance and just as importantly by a lead guitarist who revels in Shadowmusic and shows it. In addition there was a lively rendition of SHAZAM!, a blistering MAN OF MYSTERY, a sensitively played SOME ARE LONELY, and, from a later period, a well judged PARISIENNE WALKWAYS (not falling into the trap of going far too far over the top).

As if all this were not enough, non-Shadows material was brought in to demonstrate conclusively that here was a band with a very wide brief indeed. CARAVAN was a new one for Shadowmania, as indeed was Cliff’s DEVIL WOMAN: a real swinger with a tremendous shuffle beat and elements of pre-recorded keyboard worked in for good measure: and why not? Used sparingly (and tellingly for this particular tour de force), this is icing on the cake for a band which wishes to preserve its dominant identity as a three guitars and drums-styled unit.

There was also a fine rendition of the evergreen PIPELINE, but for the present writer the main highlight was a knockout I SAW HER STANDING THERE, a superlative song shrewdly chosen by The Beatles as the opener to their awesome debut LP: here Indra stepped forward at intervals to ‘play’ directly to different segments of the assembled crowd, an effective piece of audience-bonding which I last saw from the lead singer of Embrace in Newcastle. Come back soon from Switzerland please Indra & Move It.

Indra and Move It

Some time after 5.00 it was time for the Norwegian group THE REFLECTIONS to return to the event. Now there can be no doubt that these guys are immensely talented and have done much in their native country and elsewhere to keep the name of The Shadows alive. It was hard to avoid the impression though that the earlier part of the set from the group, sandwiched as they were between the outstanding Indra & Move It and the formidable Rapiers, was marred by nervousness, particularly from lead guitarist Svein, whose command of English onstage seems less confident than when engaged in normal conversation. Still, there were good moments in these earlier numbers, for example THE LOST CITY, SOMEWHERE, RETURN TO THE ALAMO, and a welcome rendition of the quirky JACK’S GOOD, certainly not a piece that surfaces overmuch in events of this nature!

In the second half or thereabouts the group seemed less inclined to hurry things along and found their feet. There was an excellent crack at TEMPTATION more in the style of The Shadows’ later workout on the 1980 album Change Of Address: my friend and learned colleague Les Woosey commented here on the fine bass playing, much in evidence elsewhere in the set. JOHN’S ROCKER, another rarity, won big applause. With the two closing numbers The Reflections really took off. Lennie Clerwall’s superb GYPSY WOMAN was delivered with great gusto, while the incomparable QUATERMASSTER’S STORES had RED RIVER ROCK mixed in as per The Reflections’ debut album: a fine touch.

The Reflections

After the customary break for refreshments, it was the turn of those Shadowmania stalwarts THE RAPIERS. The Rapiers are an immensely versatile band, but for this event naturally they focused on Shadowmusic, this time round exclusively so. The group has had so many superlatives heaped upon them that it seems superfluous to add more: suffice it to say that the quality of the playing and the amazing attention to every minute detail and nuance of the originals surely puts this group in the superleague. There was a nice mix of instrumentals and vocals, with the emphasis on the early years, lead guitarist Colin Pryce-Jones’ preferred period: SHADOOGIE (old style that is), SATURDAY DANCE, BE-BOP-A-LULA (with two fine guitar breaks), GONZALES (impressive lighting effects for this one), BABY MY HEART (what a snazzy solo from Hank, uncannily revived by Colin), ROUND AND ROUND (contemporaneous with FOOT TAPPER, some consider it would have made an even better single: hmm, maybe), SEE YOU IN MY DRUMS.

This last number, penned by Tony Meehan (“The first time Bruce has allowed us to do this one”) is especially interesting, because it was of course Brian Bennett’s LITTLE ‘B’ that went on to become the staple drum-solo slot. SEE YOU IN MY DRUMS though has a lot going for it: it is shorter and snappier (and preferable for that reason, I am assured by many whose interest in percussion does not extend to several minutes worth of it in one go), and the guitar elements are tremendously punchy. The set was rounded off by a couple of numbers played on green Burns, loaned by Barry Gibson: the rousing vocal DON’T IT MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD, and the rumbustious RHYTHM AND GREENS, this latter eliciting a virtuoso display from Colin Pryce-Jones.

At this point JET HARRIS and CLIFF HALL came on the scene, and we were treated to a truly exhilarating trip down memory lane, Shadows numbers mingling with the solo pieces, JET BLACK, 36–24–36 and NIVRAM keeping company with SCARLETT O’HARA, APPLEJACK (enlivened by Cliff Hall’s accompaniment), BESAME MUCHO, DIAMONDS and others. Midway there was a surprise when the vivacious Ms Billie Davis came on to rapturous applause (Jet: “We were once an item: forget about Posh ’n’ Becks!”) to duet with the amazing Mr Harris on ‘No Other Baby’ (a lead single of hers released October 1965) — surely the scoop of the evening in the nostalgia stakes! What a marvellous showman Jet Harris is.

The Rapiers featuring Jet Harris

And finally, to cap what must be reckoned the best Shadowmania yet, BRUCE WELCH’S SHADOWS. Was this going to be a re-run more or less of the Final Tour? Far from it, though some wondered when RIDERS IN THE SKY was the chosen opener here as well. True, there were classic tunes in abundance: THE RISE AND FALL OF FLINGEL BUNT, ATLANTIS, GERONIMO, WONDERFUL LAND, FOOT TAPPER, THE FRIGHTENED CITY, LITTLE ‘B’ (great ovation, good lighting), THEME FROM THE DEER HUNTER, EQUINOXE (PART V) (Cliff Hall was outstanding on this one), APACHE, FBI.

On the other hand, there was much in the set-list that was never or only rarely tried, and it has to be said that lead guitarist Phil Kelly here consistently demonstrated the tremendous dexterity and flair we have come to expect from him. As examples, the Japanese favourite SPRING IS NEARLY HERE, the much neglected GENIE WITH THE LIGHT BROWN LAMP, the evocative BLUE SKY, BLUE SEA, BLUE ME, a stunningly played (and choreographed!) CRICKET BAT BOOGIE (on the evidence of this performance I would say it could justly take its place beside the classic SHADOOGIE), WALK DON’T RUN (essentially in the mould of The Shadows’ distinctive recording from 1977), MUSTANG (co-penned by Jerry Lordan, this 1961 EP track is one of the great neglected Shadows classics), MY RESISTANCE IS LOW (whatever would Hoagy Carmichael have made of this scintillating makeover, and who would have thought that this of all numbers would have put in an appearance?) and Peter Green’s haunting ALBATROSS.

There were vocals as well. For this writer MARY ANNE was most definitely one of the least successful vocal outings, absolutely no match for the rousing beat song THAT’S THE WAY IT GOES, the Eurovision stomper LET ME BE THE ONE, the top-of-the-range rocker GEE WHIZ IT’S YOU (performed on the tour), DON’T MAKE MY BABY BLUE (ditto: the varied Hank solos on tour matched by Phil Kelly here). So much then to remember and savour. And whoever devised the black and white lighting effects for APACHE deserves a bonus!

Bruce Welch's Shadows

All Photographs Above © Angélique von Söhsten

Malcolm With Various Friends At The Star-Studded After Party

Photographs © Richard Campbell

As a rider to the above, Richard and I travelled to the Isle Of Wight to see THE RAPIERS, JET HARRIS and CLIFF HALL perform at the Medina Theatre on the Sunday evening. The theatre, compact but packed, turned out to be a great venue for Colin Pryce-Jones’ easy manner with an audience, and for the wonderful and sometimes outrageous japes of Jet Harris, very much aided and abetted on this occasion by Cliff Hall.

What to recall? Well, the whole show was a delight, but in particular it was good to see The Rapiers play numbers they would not normally do at Shadowmania, such as THE FRIGHTENED CITY, WONDERFUL LAND, THE RISE AND FALL OF FLINGEL BUNT. Their performance consistently drew audible gasps of admiration and/ or disbelief from many around. On top of that, Jet was in ultra-mischievous form, with various wisecracks of a local nature (he lives on the island) being much appreciated. After making a dramatic entrance, he promptly disappeared backstage and emerged in an enormous shoulder-length blond wig tastefully (?) decorated with what appeared to be red dreadlocks. So embellished, he thrashed, and sweated, his way through the opening number. Needless to say, the whole place rocked with uproarious laughter, and The Rapiers joined in (the laughter that is, not the wig-wearing).

A final point. Colin had earlier broken off a discourse to a sizeable audience on the Gretsch and related matters with “You don’t know what I’m talking about do you?!” Most didn’t, and it is doubtful if a single soul would have cared anyway about who did what with non-Fender instruments, such was the magic on display that evening.

Jet Harris & Malcolm After The Show + The Tour Brochure

Photograph (left) © Richard Campbell

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