PUBLISH DATE: 25th September 2002

Buddies Chris and Norman spot 
our camera at Ripley 

Chris Farlowe and The Norman Beaker Band at the
Beverley PlayHouse and Ripley Town Hall
July 12 and 13, 2002
For those of you not familiar with this part of the UK, Beverley is a small market town just north of Hull and just a few miles south and east of Bridlington; whose main claims to fame are the spectacular medieval Minster and a racecourse, neither of which we visited! We did however, have a trip to the seaside and can report that Bridlington is quite a pleasant place to while away a sunny afternoon. Our visit also coincided with the Queen's Jubilee visit. Unfortunately, we found out about it too late to have invited her to the gig and also, I suspect the Royal Box at the Play House may have been out of commission!

The Picture PlayHouse in Beverley is an interesting venue and probably a listed building, which would explain a few things about the state of the décor, that had obviously seen better days. Shall we say it has 'character' and leave it at that!

Lenni, Chris and John at Beverley
(Tip No1. Don't sit on the front row of seats - they aren't bolted to the floor!).

However, a quick tour of the luxurious backstage facilities soon convinced me that the auditorium was a pleasanter place to be! It always amazes me how
Chris and the Beaker Band manage to fit in such small spaces at the same time let alone, get changed. It really was no bigger than a skip and there were other skip similarities that we won't dwell on. Still, pros that they are, you don't hear them complain and they just get on with it. Apparently, they have seen a lot worse!

The crowd was smaller than expected (maybe they all had invites to meet Liz) but they were all stalwart fans and made up for lack of numbers with their enthusiasm. We were really looking forward to our first 'proper' gig since
Leer in Germany and settled into our (second row) seats, just before the Beaker Band kicked things off. 

The Beaker Band started with 'Hollywood', a song about the importance of having the occasional holiday and getting away from it all which was most appropriate as we were indeed just starting ours! Chris joined them on stage and launched into 'Don't Wanna' Sing The Blues No More' (don't worry it's only a song)! Chris and the Band sounded really fresh and play with their customary enthusiasm and 100% commitment. In particular they gave us a great version of 'HandBags', with superb, understated guitar accompaniment from Norm, and Chris giving the lyrics a depth of feeling and understanding that the pretenders (Rod Stewart and Kelly Jones) can only dream about - this song really is Chris's very own. The first set ended with 'Standing on Shaky Ground', a great way to finish and by now, the seats on the second row were starting to loosen due to enthusiastic audience participation. In fact you can probably judge the success of a gig at Beverley by the number of seats that come loose from their mountings in the course of the evening! 

Chris at The Picture Playhouse

Chris n Norm at Beverley
The break itself was quite unique in that they have usherettes selling ice creams (not albatrosses as Kris suggested). Norman very generously offered to buy me one, but then conveniently remembered that he had left his money in the dressing room, so I bought my own and very nice it was too.
Tip No 2. At the break, exit by the side door and you end up in the vicinity of the Dog and Duck and you can down a couple of swift ones to fortify you for the second set).

Tip No 3. Remember the length of the break is determined by how many drinks the band are bought so if you want more time, just buy Norman a pint (after all, they can't start the second set without him!). 

The second set started with the NBB showcasing a track from their new CD. '
Option on You Baby' is a real foot-tapper (or in the context of the PlayHouse - a real seat loosener) and a great live number. It features some really funky keyboards from Dave Baldwin, though, don't let the upbeat tempo fool you - listen to the lyrics carefully, this is no conventional love song! 
Chris then came back on stage with one for the 'ladies' - '
Blue as Blues Can Get', featuring a really beautiful solo from Lenni - (it must have been the interval refreshments we could see the fumes coming out of that sax)! 

I don't think anyone who was there will disagree with me when I say what a great time was had by all (on and off stage). The on-stage banter with Chris and the Band just never stopped and everyone had a really good laugh. I just wish I could remember half of it - though most of it would be unrepeatable!

For those of you who are interested in these things (and I know some of you are) the set list was as follows:
Set 1 Set 2 Encore
1. Hollywood *NBB
2. I Don't Wanna Sing The Blues No More
3. Tough On Me, Tough On You
4. Lonesome Road
5. Handbags & Gladrags
6. In Your Loving Arms
7. Standing On Shaky Ground
8. Option On You Baby *NBB
9. Blue As Blues Can Get
10. Stormy Monday Blues
11. Cry To Me

12. All Or Nothing
13. The Guitar Don't Lie
14. Out Of Time
15. Miss You Fever

Familiar stuff, but as ever, played with enthusiasm, musical excellence and a sense of fun. It doesn't get any better…or does it?

Saturday and we have packed up camp (literally) and moved seventy or so miles to the west to the village of
Ripley, West Yorkshire. Ripley really is a cute village, with a castle, some stocks and a nice pub (The Boar's Head), handily placed, almost opposite the Village Town Hall where the gig was held. 

Lenni, Dave (hiding), Chris, John, Paul (hiding) & Norman at the Town Hall in Ripley
This was one of those 'tables at the back with a dance floor at the front' layouts which to be honest is always a bit problematic. At Ripley, some of the late comers stood in front of the stage obscuring the view for those sat down which I know spoiled it for one or two people. But aside from that minor gripe, it was a splendid set-up. A special mention should go to the sound guys who did a great job and got a really good mix that night. 

It seemed as though there were about five hundred people there; and there certainly weren't any seats left by the time we got there, with about fifteen minutes to go. So we stood at the side and still had a great view though probably have suffered permanent damage to our hearing due to being in direct line of the PA!

Chris always ready for a laugh

Harold on Sax with John's solid backing and the maestro on vocals
We must mention a few names: including Margaret and 'hubby' Robinson (hope you enjoyed Stormy Monday) our good friends and No1 Beaker Band Fans, Pam and John Henderson, Michael and his Mum (who is a really long standing fan - possibly the longest!) and Bruce and Debbie (we must sort that gig out someday soon)! It was really great to see so many familiar and friendly faces there. 

The Beaker Band got the ball rolling with 'Option on You Baby' followed by 'You Can Talk', both off the new NBB's CD 'Who's He Calling Me Him?'. 'You Can Talk' is a great modern blues number. It sounded great when we first heard it in the studio and is even better live with a lovely melodic sax solo from Lenni (or is that the Old Dear Hunter?) - a future Beaker Band classic this one. 

Chris then came on stage launching into 'Don't Wanna Sing the Blues No More' which immediately got some of the audience to their feet dancing. He followed with 'Tough on Me, Tough on You', Chris giving this song his customary 101% and managing to make singing this 'difficult' song seem effortless. One of our favourite 'live' numbers this. Watch Norman playing guitar on this one and the way he swaps between lead and rhythm, picking out the melody just enough to compliment and enhance Chris' vocals . A good number also, this one for John Price on bass, with some nice slides (not sure about the shirt though!). 

It never ceases to amaze me how each gig always throws up something new . No two gigs are ever the same and tonight was no exception, with possibly the most surreal moment yet when Chris and audience sang the
Monty Python 'Spam' Song (honestly). I just wish we had it on tape! 

Smile please, your on &
'In Your Loving Arms' , from Chris' CD 'The Voice', was another high spot of the evening - you could have heard a pin drop as the audience were drawn into this sad tale of longing and repentance - many of them no doubt thinking about whose arms they would like to be in!

Well, it was over all to soon (as always) and '
Rock and Roll Soldier' (off the CD 'Waiting in the Wings') made a welcome return for the encore. This is a great track to end on and gives the Band and Chris the chance to get a bit 'heavier' than usual which they obviously all enjoy, especially Paul (just back from touring with 10cc) who really gives his kit some 'welly' on this one. One of our favourite 'new' additions to the set this one. 

There was just enough time left to catch last orders across the road in the pub (nice pint of 'Black Sheep') and then back to the hall to wave Chris and the Band off. I'm sure they would want to thank
Andy, who runs Ripley Blues for looking after them so well and hopefully it won't be too long before Chris and the Boys make a return visit.
Tonight's set list was:
Set 1 Set 1 cont Encore
1. Option On You Baby *NBB
2. You Can Talk
3. I Don't Wanna Sing The Blues No More
4. Tough On Me, Tough On You
5. Lonesome Road
6. Handbags & Gladrags

7. Standing On Shaky Ground
8. Stormy Monday Blues
9. In Your Loving Arms
10. Cry To Me
11. Blue As Blues Can Get
12. Out Of Time
13. All Or Nothing
14. Rock and Roll Soldier