Show was groovy baby

23:10, Mar 23 2014

REVIEW A Tribute To The 60s Pop Invasion

Ascot Park Hotel

Friday night

You know you're in for the best of British when the audience is invited to stand for God Save The Queen before a note has been sung.

It may have been tongue in cheek but the audience was right up for it. Many came dressed in their best 60s Brit finery and the room was resplendent with Union Jacks, psychedelic decorations and even a 1948 Morris 8 parked in the middle.

The vibe was, as MC Marc Colyer in Austin Powers persona said repeatedly, groovy baby.


The hits kept coming, and the smashing cast of singers were all on song as they slipped into each song's character.

Dave McMeeking, recently returned to Southland after years of professional musical theatre, proved instantly what an asset to the city he is going to be when he launched into a thumping rendition of The Swinging Blue Jeans' song Hippy Hippy Shake. In turtleneck sweater, sharp suit and wig he looked strikingly like a match- fit Jordan Luck and he owned the stage whenever he appeared.

Local legend Shannon Cooper- Garland had a string of knockout songs, easily adopting the appearance and vocal stylings of 60s leading ladies, from Lulu to Cilla Black to Sandie Shaw to Millie Small. Her Cilla-style You're My World was a powerhouse.

Cheryl Anderson also got in on the act with effortlessly powerful renditions of Dusty Springfield's Son of a Preacher Man and Lulu's rollicking blockbuster Shout.

Male leads Gerry McSoriley and Jimmy Waddell, the only cast members who could lay claim to actually remembering the 60s, got plenty of stage time and both scored home runs. Waddell brought the raunch for Cliff Richard's Move It and the Kinks' You Really Got Me, while McSoriley smashed his Gerry and the Pacemakers medley out of the park, finishing with a hip-swivelling flourish and a triumphant whoop.

Their combination with McMeeking on the obligatory Hollies and Beatles medleys that rounded out each half were crowd-pleasers.

The show was everything it was billed as, with classic singalong hits, colour, energy and plenty of humour. The meal was hearty and the room was full of happiness.

A big shout out to the band, too, led from the back by a hyper- animated Aaron Ives, who played like an animal on the drums, laying down a thunderous primal backbeat that kept the joint humming all night.

Yeah, baby. Yeah!


The Southland Times