WEIGHING in at over 60 dates between October and June 2017, The Sensational 60s 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 groups.
The sole solo artist this time around is the ever-popular Chris Farlowe, whose rendition of Handbags and 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 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 once again be 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 (Between 26th and 28th of January 2017, prior engagements will prevent the Hermits from appearing and their place on the tour for those dates will be taken by The Merseybeats (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 says, 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.”
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 and is really looking forward to the tour.
“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.
“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 peoples’ 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.”
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 20 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 60s Tours, as he explains. “This will be our third, and I compered one when the usual compere, Alan Mosca from Freddie and The Dreamers was unavailable.
“We absolutely 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 enjoyment of the tour will be tinged with sadness as after the tour ends, The Ivy League are calling it a day.
“Tell Jon I want his suit!” Mike interjects.
“That’s right,” Jon says with a hint of regret in his voice. “The actual truth is that our drummer Dave wanted to retire. We have been together 48 years now and decided that if either of us wanted to retire we'd give each other a years’ notice.”
“We’re doing it (retiring) reluctantly and it’s never the right time, but we wanted to finish with something nice rather than waiting for the phone not to ring.
“We do have two more gigs after the tour ends next June and then that’ll be it, a complete stop with no one-off shows.
“If it has been a few years ago, we might have suggested getting someone in, but none of us are getting any younger, and what better way to bow out than with such a great show.
“The music will never die.”
The Sensational 60s Experience featuring Chris Farlowe, Herman’s Hermits, The Fortunes, The Swinging Blue Jeans, The Ivy League, and The New Amen Corner, (with The Merseybeats replacing Herman’s Hermits at a few shows); will be appearing at The City Hall, Sheffield on December 2.
At every show there will be the chance to win a guitar signed by all the acts on the bill — and in the tour programme is a very special music quiz by yours truly.
Tickets are available from the box office on 0115 989 5555 and all the usual agencies.