I appreciate that some of our audience may not be able to relate to the BBC 1959-67 Juke Box Jury show hosted by the late David Jacobs. In those days you were marked more out of 5 than 10, and I guess my Friday night also contained debate about what is perhaps a better number.Another local concert for me once more by the 5 piece band that Jim Cregan has successfully put together. Each member has pedigree in abundance, some may say that the band may have been more Rod connected in the early days when Jim was putting the band together, both Gary Grainger and Robin Le
Mesurier have both featured, but the current line up plays Rod's hits with a quality that even his own band don’t quite put across at times – maybe because here you have a small venue – or maybe because there are still a raditional 5 member band, not harps, violins and 3 girl backing singers!
I’ve described before what the Boom Boom club in Sutton is like, so I won’t over elaborate (I know I do enough of that anyway!). I was lucky to be in a small contingent of elite Smiler crew, 5 of us in fact, the main man John and his brother Paul, plus Billy and the loveable Steamy.For me that meant I was seriously overwhelmed on Rod and Faces knowledge, but the chat (if you could make out everything being said) was well balanced, Hurtwood (which alas I could not contribute), Hyde Park and the new albums. Although here I exposed my lackadaisical actions, as with Time,
I have avoided listening to Another Country until I have the CD in my hand,so when John asked what did I think of Batman, Superman, Spiderman – my bemused look exposed my vulnerability, but luckily having bought Uncut earlier in the day, it did register after a few seconds. It was also
touched on about Rod commenting on ‘Mac – a fact that I have previously voiced, that the two of them never really appeared to hit it off, Mac at his own concerts would never mention Rod and only ever seemed to talk about Ronnie Lane and Kenny Jones. Overall, we all seemed to agree that maybe Rod commenting on the relationship possibly was not the smartest of things to have done. The talk was also “How long will it take for Hyde Park to be mentioned” –
in fact it did not even need Jim to take to the stage as 9 o’clock approached Pete Feenstra (Steamy liking him to a quirky Ade Edmondson figure) as his introduction said “Give a massive appreciation to Jim Cregan's - who only a couple of weeks ago was playing in front of 55,000 people – whilst here at the Boom Boom he’s playing to a crowd of people all
over 55!!” ….. Let's hear it for the band - Cregan & Co. Enter the band to the sound of the Dam Busters (I believe) and Jim saying how much he loved the reception the band always got in Sutton.
Our perfect (well Paul was not so sure as the ear plugs got inserted) position on the left hand side of the stage right at the front could hardly have been better, we knew the play list as it was lying in front of us. The perfect start is always the intro the band lead up to for Baby Jane,Sam Tanner on keyboards and Pat Davey on bass set the slow melodic start before it bursts into the natural upbeat sound and rasping voice of Ben Mills.
They follow this up with Forever Young and Hot Legs. In between Jim makes his reference to Hyde Park to Steamy’s amusement, but also commented on the fact Sam Tanner had played keyboards for The Faces at Hurtwood. Plus drummer Harry James has had to be torn away from Thunder to be part of their new tour. But Jim alluded to the fact that Harry the previous night had wanted to be called Barry, but tonight it’s going to be Gary – just as well they are not playing Saturday because by then it maybe Carrie!
Audience participation requested to sing along to the next number, First Cut Is The Deepest. This was followed by one of Jim’s pre-Rod bands hits Burlesque – from the 1972 Family album Bandstand. A real favourite of mine, sung brilliantly by Ben.
In every set, whoever your watching there are tracks that don’t exactly float your boat, and Wild Side of Life has always been one of those.As I went for extra refreshments, You’re In My Heart was launched, another audience sing along that seemed to amaze the band the volume created. Plus
it proved perfect timing as nobody else was at the bar - the down side though, get back to the front without spilling anything dodging between swaying crowds. I only missed a third of the song.They then play the melodic classic from Time, Brighton Beach, still a brilliant number, but one I fear that does lose it’s shine the more you see it live.
From the newest number we are taken back to another of Jim’s earlier bands,he mentions that Steve Harley was at Hurtwood and Cockney Rebel were back on tour, which could mean just one thing – Make Me Smile (Come Up And See
Me) the superb no.1 hit from early 1975.Strangely though without further mention of Hyde Park, they play I Was Only
Joking, once more we are treated to Jim’s awesome guitar playing on a song that obviously Rod feels Jim is untouchable as far as hitting the notes to perfection.
Next up is again the bands great twist on the start of a Rod rocker,Passion, as each member gets a piece of solo time as their version puts many from a Rod line up firmly into touch. As it is slowed down a few degrees (not that the heat in the Boom Boom ever decreases! – as Jim had lost the battle with Ben on who would remove their jacket first straight after Hot Legs) we are treated to the forever classic Handbags and Gladrags.The ultimate sing along follows where Ben has plenty of time for water break as the “over 55’s! – well some of us” crowd sing I Don’t Wanna Talk About It louder than you will ever hear any other crowd at Sutton United Football Club.
By now with our advantageous positioning we know the set is coming to a close, we are first treated with their version of Young Turks, which adds the old classic part of a bit of reggae towards the end. This is followed by Harry’s drum solo on Losin’ You which let’s be fair,can anybody really do that better than Kenny? What else could you finish with but Maggie May and a bit more crowd intervention.
But this is proper “old school” concerts – there are encores to be had, and the first two are the “prime” rockers, Twisting The Night Away and with “Dave” – didn’t quite get his surname – but I can assure you it was not
Cameron, also taking to the stage to criminally make it a 6 piece band it was “Dom where are you now” – Sweet Little Rock ‘n Roller – the extended version.
Always a bit of an odd finish, but they end with Have I Told You Lately – to bows and thanking us all for attendance and reminding us they are due to return just before new year.
As the five leave the stage, the five of us in the audience nod our appreciation at a wonderful evening of music just how we like it, although I had my back to him, out of the corner of my eye it’s warming to see John pumping the air and swaying to the music that has been so much of his life,
he maybe at times the ultimate critic, but his mojo has been reignited by the set list from Hyde Park and the reunion of the remaining three at Hurtwood. All this in truth started by the 2013 Time album and what awaits
us next month.What we all have to appreciate is that man Mr. Cregan’s influence of building Rod’s confidence and playing his part in his rebirth of what we hope will lead to another no.1 album for Another Country.
For me, my eye was always on that set list in front of me, who would want that after the show? – Well I got the one Jim was reading from. (It makes any review that much easier and accurate) Plus it will be squirrelled away for keepsake.
The quirk in me is also that I hunt autograph’s and a book on The Faces – Last Orders Please from 2003, already signed by Mac and Rod, has spare room at the back, I added a photo of Rod with his hand on Jim’s head at Hyde Park especially for this occasion – I asked one of the groups female entourage if by chance Jim would sign by that photo, of course he will she told me. Much to my delight the book was returned not with just an autograph but what makes you understand why Jim and Rod hit it off – humour.
Written are the words – “ Rod checking if Jim wears a wig!” – classic
Oh yes and my concert rating and the company I found myself in - I'll give it 5...
Set List of 19 songs in order - 2 hours of quality:-
First Cut Is The Deepest
Wild Side Of Life
You're In My Heart
Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)
I Was Only Joking
Handbags & Gladrags
I Don't Wanna Talk About It
Twistin' The Night Away
Sweet Little Rock 'n Roller
Have I Told You Lately
Review By Colin Baker
Photos Yve Paige