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Stars of the hit parade hark back to golden years of the Swinging Sixties

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: April 26, 2013

By Jackie Butler

  • Mike Pender's Searchers take top billing on a 1960s live celebration which also features The Merseybeats, below in their original guise

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The Searchers and the Merseybeats both rose out of the skiffle scene during the same seminal Liverpool era that spawned the Beatles, the Hollies, the Swinging Blue Jeans and Gerry and the Pacemakers.

Fifty years on, these two bands who released their debut singles in 1963 are still treading the boards (albeit in slightly altered formats) and sharing those hits of the past as part of the perennial celebration known as The Solid Silver 60s Show.

Back in the day, groups and solo artists travelled as a big tour package as a matter of course, offering a feast of short, sharp sets on popular bills that played to hordes of, mostly screaming, teenage girls and boys.

These were memorable and fast-moving days when the young were finding their voice in the world, both creatively and politically.

And emerging pop musicians whose tunes made the all-important hit parade were swiftly elevated to idol status.

So it's hardly surprising that baby boomers are always delighted to hear some of their favourite songs delivered live and in a show that takes them right back to their youth.

Mike Pender, the original voice of the Searchers, is one of the big draws on the current, 28th, annual tour, which comes to the Princess Theatre, Torquay, tonight.

Mike's vocals and his distinctive 12-string "jangly" guitar epitomised the Searchers' sound. His is the voice of such classics as the band's debut single Sweets for My Sweet, topping the charts in 1963, Sugar And Spice (number two in 1963), Needles and Pins (number one in 1964), and Don't Throw Your Love Away (also number one in 1964) – some of the greatest records to come out of this period in pop history.

With the current incarnation of the band, Mike will also be interpreting rock standards originally made popular by Buddy Holly, The Drifters and Roy Orbison.

The Merseybeats, meanwhile, had their first hit single with It's Love That Really Counts (number 24 in 1963), followed a year later by the million-selling I Think of You (number five). Their biggest hit came in 1966 with Sorrow (number 4).

The billing is completed by a trio of artists whose music also made an indelible mark – Dave Berry, Wayne Fontana, and the new incarnation of Amen Corner.

Dave's heart has always remained in the 60s. His major hits include, Memphis Tennessee, The Crying Game, My Baby Left Me, Mama and The Strange Effect. He has appeared in concert at some of the most elite venues in the UK. In 2011 The Kinks' Ray Davies invited Dave to appear at the Meltdown Festival in London alongside Ronnie Spector and Sandie Shaw.

Wayne stepped out of Manchester during the 1960s beat boom. With his band The Mindbenders, he had hits with Hello Josephine , Um Um Um Um Um Um , Game of Love (number two in 1965), Pamela Pamela and Come On Home.

Psychedelic Welsh pop rockers Amen Corner were a slightly later entity, originally fronted by Andy Fairweather Low in the late-60s.

The New Amen Corner have emerged in the last couple of years to interpret the good vibes of the band's hits, like the number one (If Paradise Is) Half As Nice and Bend Me, Shape Me.

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