PUBLISH DATE:  25 April 2010

Cliff Bennett, Herbie Goins, Chris Farlowe & the Norman Beaker Band

This was the first night of a 28 date UK tour and unfortunately the theatre was less than a third full. Nevertheless
Norman Beaker kicked off the evening with great enthusiasm with 'Option on You Baby' and 'When the Fat Lady sings' (no the show wasn't over yet!). He then introduced Kim on saxophone and Howie on trumpet, collectively know as 'Norm's Horns'. We then had an excellent vocal from Norman on 'Lies like a River'

Cliff Bennett was then introduced and went straight into an up tempo number whose title I didn't get but was probably called 'A little bit Higher'. Cliff really got into this number dancing around the stage and even leaping in the air as it ended. It then took him several minutes to get his breath back, will he keep this up for the whole tour? We then had his first hit 'One Way Love' followed by 'I'm not tired' (how true that was I don't know!) and 'Why, Why, Why, Why Me'. Cliff then told us a story of how he chose the next number in the early sixties, convinced it would be a hit - In fact it bombed. It was called 'I'll take you home' and was also recorded by the Drifters who had a little more success with it. Cliff then ended his session with his biggest hit 'Got to get you into my life'. I have seen him on a number of occasions in recent years and each time his voice has struggled after a few numbers. Tonight, however, his voice was excellent all the way through and he was even hitting high notes towards the end of the last number, a true class act.

After the interval
Herbie Goins came on for his set. We were told by Norman that he had been a singer in the Alexis Korner Band back in the sixties. He has also performed with the likes of B.B. King, Bobby Bland and Sam Cook, quite a pedigree. He started with the classic 'Let the Good Times Roll' and followed that with a B.B. King number called 'My Baby's gone' which displayed his soulful and bluesy voice. We then had a Jon Hiatt number 'It feels like rain' which slowed the tempo and demonstrated his versatility. Following was his only track that could be described as a hit and was also a Northern Soul favourite 'Number One in your Heart'. His next number was 'Get myself back on the road again', prophetic perhaps as he has recently started touring again and is obviously enjoying it. He ended his set with 'Midnight Believer' a number recorded by B.B. King and one of Herbie's favourites. I had not heard him before but was certainly impressed by his voice and aura on stage, being a tall man he also towered above Norman, quite a sight to see the two together. 

We then came to the highlight of the evening – well I am biased. I first heard
Chris Farlowe in the mid sixties, first saw him with Colosseum in 1971 and have regularly followed him since 1990. He started with a Little Milton number called 'Ain't no big Deal', a fairly up beat number. This was followed by 'In your loving arms', which I later discovered to my surprise had been recorded by Glen Campbell. Chris's powerful voice really excels when he does these slow moody numbers. We then had a funk number originally by Delbert McClintock called 'Standing on Shaky Ground', overtones of James Brown on this one. Chris then told us (as he always does!) how the next number had been specially written for him by Mike D'Abo, despite claims that Rod Stewart did it first. It was, of course, 'Handbags and Gladrags', with Norm's Horns definitely enhancing this rendition. Next I felt we had a rather flat version of the James Brown number 'Out of Sight', work in progress perhaps. Chris's stint than came to a close with, what else but 'Out of Time', definitely his anthem with the small crowd enthusiastically joining in the chorus. 

All three singers then came back on stage to do what was quaintly described as a medley. Chris started it off with
'Shake' an Otis Redding number which Chris had performed with Otis on 'Ready, Steady Go'. Cliff then took up the mantle with 'Knock on Wood' and the evening ended with all three joining in on 'Midnight Hour'. A terrific evening of soul and blues with strong performances by all three singers. The Norman Beaker Band provided excellent backing with Norman on lead guitar, John Price on bass, Dave Baldwin on keyboards, Steve Gibson on drums and, of course the superb Norm's horns.