Weighing in at over 60 dates over an eight-month period, The Sensational 60’s Experience is just about the biggest show dedicated to the music of that decade.
And this time, the line-up is colossal, with one single artist and five – yes – five groups
The sole solo artist this time around is the ever-popular Chris Farlowe, whose rendition of Handbags ad Gladrags is always a showstopper
This year is special though for Chris, because it is 50 years since England won the football World Cup and Chris’s worldwide smash hit Out Of Time was on the top of the charts on that historic day.
Chris will be backed by The New Amen Corner, who will be performing the hits of the Welsh band such as Bend Me Shape Me and If Paradise Is Half As Nice
Hermans Hermits, stalwarts of the tour in past years, will be once again performing their Sixties hits with I’m Into Something Good, No Milk Today, Silhouettes and There’s A Kind Of Hush still getting the crowd on their feet and singing. (However, between January 26 and 28, prior engagements will prevent the Hermits from appearing and their place on the tour for those dates will be taken by The Merseybeats whose hits include I Think Of You, Don’t Turn Around, Wishin’ and Hopin’)
The Swinging Blue Jeans will also be along playing the likes of Hippy Hippy Shake, You’re No Good and Good Golly Miss Molly.
The Fortunes, whose hits spread over into the seventies with You’ve Got Your Troubles, Here It Comes Again and Storm In A Teacup, are making their debut on the tour; but as guitarist and singer Mike Smitham told me, they nearly did the very first tour almost a decade ago. “We were going to do the first one, but another tour came up and we did that instead,” he said.
It’s a decision he has come to regret.
“Yes, we made a mistake there. The Geordie Boys (promoters Alan Wearmouth and Billy McGregor) always put on a great show and they always look after the bands.”
Mike has been with The Fortunes for over 30 years. “We still love touring, especially when we’re up on stage. The worst part of it is the travelling as I do all the driving.” He adds laughing. “Seriously though, I’ve been a professional for 45 years and it’s the best time ever.
Mike loves the music and is in no doubt why it is still popular.
“The music evokes a special time in people’s lives – a candle that burned brightly and everything that has happened since has been a pastiche.”
“I still get a shiver when I hear the music.”
As there are so many acts on the tour, time is limited.
Mike said: “We’re only doing about 25 minutes or so and obviously people want to hear the hits. We’re all well-oiled musicians and all good friends so it’ll be a blast.”
The lack of time means that keyboardist Bob Jackson won’t be able to play the songs from his other band, Badfinger..
Sometimes Geoff Turton (Rockin’ Berries) plays keyboards with the band, but not on this tour.
“I keep telling him that he’s too old for The Fortunes,” he says laughing
The lack of time is something that will affect The Ivy League, but singer / bassist Jon Brennan puts a positive slant on it.
“We’re only getting twenty minutes this time. We got 28 the last time, but there are so many acts on the bill. It’s very limiting, but it’s good for the fans as they see more artists.”
“For us though, it seems as if you’re just getting going and you have to stop.”
“It makes for a quick show though and we like to please everybody, so we’ll still get in the hits (which include Funny How Love Can Be and Tossing And Turning).”
Jon loves the Sensational 60’s Tours. He said: “This will be our third, and I compered one when the usual compere, Alan Mosca from Freddie and The Dreamers was unavailable.”
“We enjoy these tours, because the audience have paid money to see you, they are already on your side as you take the stage and that’s enjoyable.”
The Sensational 60’s Experience featuring Chris Farlowe, Hermans Hermits, The Fortunes, The Swinging Blue Jeans, The Ivy League, and The New Amen Corner, (with The Merseybeats replacing Hermans Hermits at a few shows); will be appearing at Buxton Opera House on November 29 and at Sheffield City Hall on December 2.