Searching for some nostalgia

02:23, Jul 14 2014
The Searchers
The Searchers, from left, Frank Allen, Spencer James, John McNally and Scott Ottaway.

Frank Allen remembers a time when all he and his band had to do was walk on stage and the crowd screamed.

More than 50 years later their audiences are a little more refined with their responses, but the enthusiasm is still there.

Allen is bass guitarist for The Searchers.

Key players in the 1960s Merseybeat scene, The Searchers rocked radios with hits such as Sweets For My Sweet, Needles and Pins, When You Walk In The Room, and a cover of Love Potion Number 9.

Heading to New Zealand later this month, the band - Allen, Spencer James (vocals and guitar), John McNally (vocals and guitar), and Scott Ottaway (drums) - will begin the tour with a show in Invercargill on July 23.

It is not the first time the band has visited the south, but Allen is expecting this show to be somewhat different to their first appearance in 1964 when they were supported by Del Shannon, or their next later that decade when they supported The Rolling Stones.


Asked what the 60s Invercargill audience was like and Allen laughs.

He can't remember - it was a long time ago, and it was the 60s.

Regardless of who they were playing with, Allen remembers it was fun - something he reckons is key to the band's longevity.

While others have come and gone, The Searchers are still playing, still touring.

Financially, they could have retired long ago. But, Allen says, what would be the fun in that?

Put simply, "we love what we are doing".

Shows these days are nostalgic events.

He does not subscribe to the idea that fans should be constantly pumped with new material, an idea regularly traversed by modern artists.

The best kind of concerts, Allen reckons, are the ones where audience members are transported back to their youth.

And it is the same for the band.

Despite having played the hits thousands of times, the group still gets a kick out of seeing the audience reaction to the songs they know well.

Anecdotes and quips also pepper their shows, all in the name of having fun and creating a great night out for the ticke holders.

"We just want to have a good time with the audience."

The show at Invercargill's Civic Theatre, which Allen promises will be full of all the band's hits, will be vastly different from their early shows, where top-billed acts played just six songs.

The Invercargill show will be two hours of hit-filled nostalgia.

In fact, there are a lot of things done differently these days.

Allen is not a fan of modern music - he says he likes The Killers and Ed Sheeran, but can't get too excited about grunge, rap or house.

But he does not begrudge young performers their time in the spotlight.

While he and his band have been heavily influenced by 50's rock n rollers and the instrumentalists behind those acts, it was a small classroom.

The rock n rollers were breaking new ground and the acts following them learned as they went.

Mistakes were made, performances weren't perfect. But that was okay.

"It was raw, live music."

Today, musicians have a huge supply of musical influences, each generation learning from the last.

Shows are bigger, more extravagant.

And that's okay too, Allen says.

It's just not his cup of tea.


What: The Searchers

When: July 23

Where: Invercargill Civic Theatre

Tickets: $59.99 from Ticket Direct

The Southland Times