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Showaddywaddy. Embassy Theatre, Skegness. 28 May 2022.

Updated: Apr 8, 2023


Embassy Theatre, Skegness.

Saturday 28 May 2022

In 1973, two bands from Leicester joined forces to perform a rock ‘n’ roll review at a local pub and thus was born Showaddywaddy. They went on to appear on television’s New Faces and to win a record contract on Bell Records alongside label mates Gary Glitter and 10cc. They brought good rockin’ fun back to the TV screen and became a household name reviving old standards alongside penning original songs to present to the public. Fronted by the charismatic Dave Bartram, they appeared regularly on TV alongside other 50s influenced bands and performers such as Garry Glitter, Alvin Stardust, Wizzard, Mud and The Rubettes.

Since first appearing and scoring hit after hit in the Top Twenty, Showaddywaddy has enjoyed a fruitful career losing and gaining members as time marched on. Sadly, some are no longer with us, others are enjoying a much-deserved retirement. Bartram himself, so long the face of the band, retired from performing in 2011, though he is still the band’s manager overseeing his legacy. And providing the link to the original line-up is their legendary drummer, Romeo Challenger. The sole survivor of the early days providing the backbeat for the band’s driving sound. It was a pleasure to see how much Challenger still clearly enjoys being a part of Showaddywaddy today.

The Class of 2022 line-up is fronted by Andy Pelos, who would not have looked out of place in the original line-up with a 70s throwback hairstyle and bedecked in a yellow drape jacket (red in the second half) and white, crepe-soled brothel creepers. His vocal delivery is not that far removed from the original recordings, and he makes an affable front man for the group. He delivered an absolutely scorching rendition of Jerry Lee Lewis’s High School Confidential.

Second lead vocalist is Billy Shannon, a young man clearly gifted musically who bopped and strolled with effervescent ease during tonight’s show. Shannon could easily front his own band but seems to be loving being a part of Showaddywaddy’s heritage too much having joined in 2021. His stage name, I later discovered is taken from two of his favourite singers, Billy Fury and Del Shannon. He is another performer with charm and charisma and no small amount of musicianship.

The versatility of sax player Dave Graham is impressive as he switches between instruments in the blink of an eye. If not offering raucous sax solos in That Is Rock ‘n’ Roll, he can be seen playing a variety of guitars, bass or providing featured vocals. He is a talent to behold, especially when running across stage playing sax at high speed.

Bass player Tom Bull provides impressive backing vocals and doubles as a lead guitarist on the unexpected cover of The Stray Cats’ classic Rock This Town. His fingers flew across the frets ripping up the stage with his exciting version.

Lead guitarist Sam Holland also joined the band in 2021. As with everyone else, Holland switches things up playing impressive solos behind his head during the second half of the show, providing backing vocals and switching to bass when needed. He also took to the drums during Under The Moon of Love.

Speaking of Under the Moon of Love, veteran rocker, Challenger came forestage to play the floor toms in the rousing rendition of their signature hit echoing the double drums that were so familiar to 70s audiences.

I didn’t realise just how many songs of Showaddywaddy I would remember. But the moment they began playing When, I was transported back to my childhood with the 45rpm single spinning on my record player and singing along at the top of my (unbroken) voice. We were treated to Hey Rock ‘n’ Roll, Remember Then, You Got What It Takes, Heartbeat, Trocadero, Three Steps to Heaven, Heavenly… the hits went on and on. I loved their take on The Marcels’ classic Blue Moon covered by so many including Elvis Presley. The audience was in seventh heaven. Many have been lifelong fans and one named ‘Big Nev’ was attending his 501st Showaddywaddy gig. Now that is what I call a fan.

The show was a colourful cavalcade. Drepes and crepes transported the audience back to their youth when music was just meant to be fun. It pre-dated punk and was a clear reaction to the over-serious prog rock and psychedelia of the 60s and 70s. I was reminded of school discos and the ‘belt buckle dance’ associated with Mud. It was a real nostalgia fest. But the biggest cheer of the night came when former frontman, come manager Dave Bartram appeared on stage after the interval to thank the venue staff and the audience for coming. He made a couple of announcements including the fact that the band will return to Skegvegas next year as a part of their fiftieth anniversary tour.

Its hard to believe that they have been an entity performing for fifty years despite personnel changes, but then next year I will be 60, so I shouldn’t be that surprised that a band of my childhood will reach the big five-O. I wish them well, and hope that Showaddywaddy’s big sound can continue for many years to come.

Andy Evans 29 May 2022

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