Reviewer: Janet Jepson
It is said that if you remember the 60’s then you weren’t there, but this magnificent performance by the amazingly talented Overtures, certainly jogs some memories. It’s nonstop nostalgia and fun all the way, right from the time lead vocalist and bass player Den Pugsley invites the audience to “get blind drunk, dance naked in the aisles, and get off yer face on LSD”.
The group – and in the 60’s they were groups, not bands, as the audience is reminded! – was formed in Hertfordshire in 1989 by Den and Steve Phypers (drums/vocals), plus Jamie Cook (guitar/lead vocals), Chris Skornia (keyboards/vocals) and Phil Evans (guitar/vocals). Make no mistake, they themselves might not even have been the proverbial twinkle in the 60’s, but they certainly know their stuff and ooze talent, both vocally and instrumentally. So much so, that in the past they have been invited to perform at private events for greats such as Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Elton and Lulu.
The Bootleg Sixties, is a true celebration of everything belonging to the decade, and the show is an eclectic mix of live performance and the visual spectacle provided by the triple view screen running behind the group. The 1960’s is all there; the newspaper articles, films, TV shows, real life for the ordinary people and even those long-forgotten adverts on the telly. The screen moves on relentlessly – it’s almost worrying that some small sixties oddity might be missed – the rag’n’bone man rides past in his cart; Dr No stares out; the defiant and youthful Rolling Stones shock; President Kennedy is assassinated; Twiggy struts her stuff on the catwalk; Elvis performs; Vietnam kicks off; and the kids swing from a lamppost that fronts the back-to-back terraces with the gasometer rising and falling at the end of the street. Who watched Bewitched, The Saint, Fireball XL5, and listened to illicit Radio Caroline, eating Lyons Maid and seated on funky furniture, with the lava lamp glowing on the side? Yes, it’s rose-tinted all the way.
But don’t dismiss the music; that is pure perfection. The lads don’t go out of their way to imitate the original works, they just perform them extremely well. From The Beatles, The Searchers, Roy Orbison, The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Simon and Garfunkel, the whole Motown scene, Creedance Clearwater Revival (yes, it was a real group!), Procul Harem with their unparalleled and moving ‘Whiter Shade of Pale’, the list is endless and spell-binding. Smart black suits begin the musical feast, and the outfits change to loud stripes and psychedelic paisleys as the 60s move on (pity they can’t model the timeless miniskirt ….) and on the screen the Hippy peace and free love gets more free. Among the rows of seats, arms are waving in the air; feet are tapping, and at times tears are streaming down slightly wrinkled cheeks.
This show is a must-see for anyone who lived through the sixties, but equally so for anyone who didn’t. Everyone needs to know about that truly influential era when the term ‘youth’ was born, hair was long, flowers had a certain power and real music was created. Besides, it’s always good to visit the theatre and come out singing – especially if it’s one of those greatest songs ever written.
Reviewed on: Sat 8 Nov 2014