Sound: Celebrating 50 years in the music business with his '50th Anniversary One Gig Tour', Tony gathered many of his musical buddies, young and old. From the drummer Liam Barber, guitarists Iain Reddy and Ken Bradshaw, and pianist Justin Randall, all of which he'd played with for years beforehand, to the bass player Greg Harper and guitarists Curtis Gould and Jordan Westwell, who were fairly recent students of his at Blackburn College during his time there. The entire band, regardless of age and experience, played an astonishing gig. In Tony's words, he sure does know how to pick 'em!
Walking in and seeing a wall of valve amps and Telecaster guitars said to me that "this is gonna sound pretty sweet". Tony ploughed through a ton of the Rock N Roll stuff that he'd been playing for years, as well as a bit of blues, pop, swing, and a jazz number. There was even a comic modernisation of the famous George Formby song, that Tony called "When I'm Film Directin'".
Covers played included "Riot In Cellblock #9", the country flavoured "See You In My Dreams", a solo piano piece in the form of "Honky Tonk Train Blues" from Justin Randall, "Move It" and "Apache" with Jordan Westwell and the jazz rendition of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" with Gloria Hoole. Tony's orginal stuff played included "Angiolina" and The Rubettes classic "You're The Reason Why".
The sound of the gig, as mixed by Blake Slater, was about as close to 'just right' as it could have been, making the entire experience that bit more sweet. I found that all the guitarists playing had unique and identifiable tones while playing - again, Tony can really form a band and a half - 5 guitarists does constitute for a half, doesn't it? // 10
Perfomance: The gig was, in many respects, a chronology and story of Tony's life as a musician and performer. This means that, not only did he perform the kind of things that he'd play with The Rubettes, he also played the songs that changed his life, the songs he loved and homages to the inspirations and great people he's worked with. And when I say perform, I mean the entire band really did put out. Everyone was enjoying every moment, and you could tell.
Unusually for a gig as such, but still befitting the telling of his story Tone, would have a little talk to the audience between most songs, which was most charming and, being Tony, incredibly funny. The man has so many stories, to not get engrossed by wonder of it all would almost feel like a crime. He connected with the audience on a raw emotional level through this. He told of how the gig was in support of the Wirral Autistic Society, knowing how much they do for people seeing as his son (Clayton Thorpe) is autistic. Giving the gig that bit of an extra meaning, his son had been rushed to hospital and the Society had been taking care of him for the past week. He dedicated "All Along The Watchtower" to Clayton, which had more than a few people on the verge of tears; the line "There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke" became that little bit more powerful. // 10
Overall Impression: Darwen Library Theatre, Darwen, England, 15th March 2012. There was no real opener for the show. Tone took the "turn up and play" approach with his band, and it paid off big time. After all he does firmly believe that "rehearsals make you think too much". After watching that, I think he might be right. The entire thing was so eclectic, finding a band that could play all of that so well, and unpaid? Yes, they played the entire thing for the charity, and in tribute of a man that played a pivotal role in all of their musical lives.
The ticket cost a mere 10, and the turnout for the gig was pretty good - Tony was clearly pleased to see so many familiar faces in the crowd. The music was well received, as were his stories and comedy. If he decides to do any more shows following this one, I'll be sure to be there. Until then, his 'Best of...' compilation ("No Hits, No Jazz") will be available very soon. All in all, a tremendous gig. I feel truly sorry for those who missed it! // 10