Call Up The Groups

Dundee Caird Hall - Saturday 4th May 2002

As we gingerly take our front row seats for the 60's spectacular "Call Up The Groups", Mike and I wonder what we are letting ourselves in for.

This child of the 70's worries that she won't recognise any of the songs (with the exception of Marmalade's “Ob La Di, Ob La Da“, having inherited a copy of the single from a cousin!) Public humiliation in the front row is the worry preying on Mike's mind, since a particularly disturbing experience at a Blackpool circus!

Needless to say all our worries are unfounded and we enjoy a great night's entertainment.

The house lights dim and to a rumble of applause a lemon-blazered Barron Knight takes the stage. Cracking a couple of jokes, he introduces the opening act.

First up it is Scottish band "Marmalade". To the strains of "Rainbow" the crowd settles back to enjoy the show.

Something is wrong with the set up. There is a lack of volume and instead of filling the hall and animating the crowd, the sound produced is more school disco than professional gig.

Even the Marmalade anthem "Ob La Di" fails to rouse the audience, in spite of frenzied demands to stand up and join in.

Between the lack of volume, lacklustre musicianship and the antics of a would be tartan Norman Wisdom, Marmalade disappoint and we heave a collective sigh of relief when the set comes to an end.

Next up "The Fortunes" who take to the stage wearing smart suits. From the opening bars of the first song to the closing chords of the last, they hold the crowd in their spell. The Fortunes show all the hallmarks of a class act. During their all too short 35 minute set, the guys play just a small selection of their many hits. Most are familiar to my ears, so don’t worry if, like me, you don’t remember the 60’s! For me the highlight was a brilliant rendition of smash hit “ Freedom Come, Freedom Go”. It was impossible not to sing along or tap your toes. You will recognise the lead singer Rod Allen. He is an original member of the band and every bit the 60’s star. Lead Guitarist Mick Smitham impresses too. He looks like a rocker and plays well. (Mike later confirms by chatting to Mick that he plays the same guitar as Pink Floyd legend Dave Gilmour.)

Keyboard player Bob Jackson is introduced and we discover that he was a member of “Badfinger” a group once hailed as the “new Beatles” by none other than Paul McCartney. He plays Badfinger’s “Can’t Live, If Living Is Without You” which has been a hit for many artists, and the crowd loves it.

Time flies past and all too soon the set is over. A few waves to the crowd and they are gone.

Five men in lemon blazers, blue shirts, gold ties and green slacks take the stage. The "Barron Knights" arrive! Their set consists of a mixture of comic songs, buffoonery, harmonies and good musicianship. Despite Mike and myself being hard to amuse we couldn’t help but crack a smile and laugh at some of their antics. Especially impressive was their take off of “Queen’s” “Bohemian Rhapsody” ! Starting out in the 60’s as a straight band who toured with both “The Beatles” and “The Rolling Stones“, their musical ability and class still shine through.

Three of the original group are still performing (Pete, Duke and Butch) and are complemented by drummer Lloyd and bass player Garth.

Now if like us, you think Garth looks familiar, you will have seen his brother Norman Watt-Roy guitarist with “Ian Dury & The Blockheads”.

With a final flourish the first half of the concert draws to a close. A twenty minute interval follows.

About ten minutes into the interval Mike and I find ourselves in the foyer. There we are surprised to see both The Fortunes and The Barron Knights mingling with the fans. This is a nice touch. Mike and I get pictures with The Fortunes and Duke, Butch, Garth and Lloyd of The Barron Knights and have a chat. They are friendly and obliging.

A mass exodus and we all race back to our seats for the second half!

“The Tremeloes” take centre stage. They dress in black shirts and black leather trousers. Come on lads, black leather doesn’t suit any man over 35! Sartorially challenged yes, but musically challenged no! The Tremeloes go on to perform faultlessly. Lead guitarist Rick Westwood plays immaculately and still seems to enjoy it after all these years. The Tremeloes give their all, their energy is remarkable, and when they play “Twist and Shout” the crowd goes wild! Their set is the shortest at just 30 minutes and we are left wanting more.

The final part of the show arrives, an orgy of performers take the stage. First of all the guitarists are introduced and they play individually then en masse. The four drummers come to the front and sing in harmony. One by one all the performers take the stage until it is full. They perform a few R&R numbers together with the crowd singing along and dancing. It has to end eventually and so it does after a good 3 hrs entertainment. We all leave in a good mood.

If you are looking for a trip down memory lane or if you simply enjoy music, you won’t do any better for the money than going to see “Call Up The Groups”.

Catch “Call Up The Groups” until 25th May 2002 or alternatively wait until the next tour. These guys are old but they have a few good years left in them!

Nice One Fellas!

Review by Rose