Blackpool ‘Super 60's Weekend’ at The Savoy Hotel, 7-11th November

Blackpool ‘Super 60's Weekend’ at The Savoy Hotel, 7-11th November

Britannia Hotels host some marvellous 60's weekends in certain northern resorts and this time it was Blackpool. All are organised by that 60's specialist Chris Wood, the man responsible for those fabulous Whitby festivals, two more of which are already organised for 2013, can't wait. This Blackpool event consisted of three days of entertainment with a number of bands performing, including tribute acts, and on the Saturday night, the 'top of the bill', in this case it was Mike Pender's Searchers.

The evening started with the Liverpool band The Shakers, who competently did Beatles' songs and some other sixties numbers. It was evident that the timings were going out, by a noticeable break, before The Dakotas came on. I saw the sound man and lady working on stage with the system and then Toni Baker taking a hand in things, just the man for this job, I thought.

It was apparent once The Dakotas started, that the sound balance was now better and so would be better also for our 'top of the bill'.  I had not seen The Dakotas perform for some time, in fact, not since the change of bass player and the introduction of a vocalist. Sorry to say, I preferred the previous line up, a personal viewpoint of course, however they were musically on the ball which I would always expect with Toni Baker as the MD. Alan is a great guitarist by the way.

It was near 11.30pm – past my bed time – when Mike Pender's Searchers came on stage. The crowd were very enthusiastic as soon as Mike and his band appeared through the door and made their way to the stage. Lots of shouting, applause and – yes – some ladies screaming would you believe! Mike looked very smart and so did his band members. It is interesting to note that bass player Barrie Cowell has been with the band since it started in 1986 and Mike's son, Mike Jnr. on drums and Keith Roberts on guitar, both having been with the band for many years. This becomes evident in the way they play together, the sound was brilliant with Mike Jnr the real power house on every number. Of course all the well known Searchers numbers were included, this is what the crowd come to hear. With so many hits and well known songs it is difficult to know what to include and what to leave out in an hour plus show.'Take it or Leave it' was included, a great song not heard so often now, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richard, no less.

If any of you have bought the most recent Searchers' CD box-set, you will realise just how many of the tracks are with Mike Pender on lead vocal (not forgetting his 12-string guitar sound), a great many of them in fact. About half way through, Mike spoke briefly about Remembrance Sunday being the following day and in tribute to those people that we all remember, he dedicated the song 'Where have all the Flowers gone', again, a song rarely performed these days. It was thoughtful and well received. After a rousing 'Needles and Pins' and 'When you Walk in the Room' (the latter the personal favourite of Mike Pender) the performance was over. But they were soon back after shouts for more with a trio of Buddy Holly numbers, and if you thought that really is the end – it was not, the crowd still wanting more. Mike lead the band straight in to 'Summer of 69' the Bryan Adams' number. Always for me a stunning number for Mike's vocal and guitar playing.

It really was over now and the band could go back to their dressing-room for recovery. It was very hot in the function room for the guests, let alone for performers working hard under bright lights. Mike, Barrie, Mike Jnr. and Keith then spent time with some of the fans before setting off home. It was now well past 1.00am and my wife and I set off back to our hotel in Lytham St.Annes, only stopping briefly for some fresh, made to order, chips on the seafront. Where else but in Blackpool can you get that on a Sunday morning? Oh yes – why were the Illuminations not switched on?  Very disappointed about that.

~Roger Askey