Maximum Rhythm 'n' Blues at
High Wycombe's Swan Theatre

The Manfreds, Colin Blunstone, Chris Farlowe, Alan Price

This review appeared in the December 1999 issue of now-defunct magazine 'The Beat Goes On'
Mary had won tickets for the Maximum R 'n' B Show at the Brighton Millennium Sixties Festival in the summer of '99, an event organised by Beat Goes On proprietors, Chris and Mike Neal.
Chris, as the magazine's editor, asked Mary to write a review of the concert.

Taking my Official TBGO Reporter role very seriously, I wore my authentic Sixties crochet minidress and silver sandals, (as admired by millions at the 1999 Brighton Millennium Sixties Festival), but found myself the only one at the gig who'd 'dressed Sixties'.

With a line-up Paul Jones described as "80% original Manfreds," encompassing "50% of Gallagher and Lyle and 40% of McGuinness Flint", the show was destined to be 170% brilliant. Add magical guest singers, Colin Blunstone, Chris Farlowe and Alan Price, mix with band-member spotlight solos and 'a splendid time is guaranteed for all'.

Kick-starter was '5-4-3-2-1', invoking the good-time Ready, Steady, Go! 'weekend starts here' image. Stunning musical arrangements introduced an extended, bluesy riff into '68 hit 'Fox On the Run', added a bold touch of bluebeat to 'Sha La La', and something approaching a Cossack dance enhanced Mike D'Abo's 'Ha, Ha! Said the Clown'.

Paul Jones definitely utilises Jess Conrad's Patented Youth Juice! He bounced his way through two shows, both stunning, (as confirmed by friends who enjoyed the earlier one) signed autographs for a massive queue of fans and still looked ready to party all night.

(Picture: Paul Jones gives Jess Conrad's address to Chris Farlowe...)

Colin Blunstone's spine-quivering voice led his set into a bluesed-up version of solo hit, 'Say You Don't Mind,' followed by a spell-binding 'I Don't Believe In Miracles'. Of course, no audience would ever allow Colin to get away without performing his twice-Sixties hit, (both Zombie and Zombieless {as Neil MacArthur}), Rod Argent's haunting, 'She's Not There'.

The sole Knees Club member on the bill confessed to being "120% Chris Farlowe", having put on a couple of pounds over the decades. "My voice is still great though," he assured us, and more than proved it. For me, the stand-out was Chris's gravelly reading of the classic, 'Stormy Monday'. The hits went down a storm, but Chris, who achieved a standing ovation, appears more comfortable singing the blues.

Alan Price, that man of Geordie wit and versatility, cannoned into his set with John Lee Hooker's 'Boom Boom', successfully segueing into his Oscar-nominated score from 'Oh Lucky Man'. Alan's '67 hit, the vaudeville-style 'Simon Smith' was followed by that well-known ditty about a certain New Orleans house of ill-repute. As an appreciator of Alan's keyboard skills, I was disappointed that time-constraints caused the omission of 'I Put A Spell On You'.

Other group members have bemoaned the fact that Wycombe audiences show reluctance for letting their hair down, but by the time the Manfreds and guests reached their 'Doo Wah Diddy Diddy' finale, everyone was on their feet, singing. (Surely nothing to do with the fact that Paul threatened the audience that nobody would sign autographs if they didn't join in.)

Flying Music and all concerned are to be congratulated upon a great show. The sound mixer deserves special mention, for achieving a perfect balance without deafening us with excessive decibels. Others, please take note! Maximum Rhythm 'n' Blues is a treat and I'd enjoy seeing it again tomorrow.

Text: © Mary Payne 1999
Pictures: © Chris Payne 1999

Pictures: A Price-less meeting – Mary with Zombie (on left) – Paul Jones meets the famous Mary...

Back to 'Reliving the Sixties'