In 1986, Spencer James joined the 60's band The Searchers to replace the departing Mike Pender. He remained as the lead singer until the end of March this year when the two long standing members of the band, John McNally and Frank Allen decided to call it a day.
Spencer had now to decide what he was going to do with his life at the relatively young age of 66. Having already released a number of solo albums over the past years, the most recent one being "Time For Letting Go" he decided that a solo career was for him. He then embarked on a tour under the management of Samsway, a company run by the Searchers drummer Scott Ottaway and his wife Sam.
Last night, Spencer brought his new show to the market village of Knaresborough in North Yorkshire to the delightfully intimate Frazer Theatre.
Having seen Spencer with the band on numerous times, I was interested to see how it would work with just one person on stage. Spencer has retained his boyish good looks and his "cheeky chappy" approach to the audience is very endearing. He is comfortable on stage and happy to engage with the audience, something he was never able to do with the band such was the domination of Frank Allen, The Searchers front man.
Spencer's show is basically one man and a guitar, or two in this case, with pre-recorded backing tracks which Spencer has produced in his own recording studio. He points out that he plays most of the instruments on the backing tracks apart from the piano. His on-stage patter is friendly and interesting with a number of band stories which fans of The Searchers will lap up.
The set is made up of a number of old Searchers' hits, songs from his albums and a "tribute" section to days gone by which included songs by Bobby Vee, Roy Orbison and Gerry Marsden. His versions of the band's songs have all been tweaked slightly and the inclusion of a cello on "The Rose" lifts this song to a whole new level. The music is interspersed with numerous anecdotes of his career to date including a lovely story about his appearance on "Top Of The Pops" in 1974 with his first band, First Class, singing Beach Baby; his first real look at potential fame and fortune.
Two hours flew by with the concert ending with "You'll Never Walk Alone, which is apt as on the evidence of this performance, Spencer never will as long as he has a guitar and a voice.
A wonderful show which, with the fairly small crowd, made it feel like it was taking place in your own front room, such was the warmth and friendliness of Spencer's character. If you want to see a performer giving his best, listen to a great voice and generally have a delightful night out, go and see SPENCER JAMES.
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