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The Searchers. The Embassy Theatre, Skegness. 07 April 2024.




The Searchers have been around since their earliest incarnation in 1959 when like so my other aspiring Liverpudlian musicians, John McNally and Mike Pender formed a skiffle group named after John Wayne's 1956 movie. From there, they road the Merseybeat wave of the early 60s and achieved success on both sides of the Atlantic creating some of the most memorable hits of that era. Tonight marked the official start of their 2024 "Thank You Tour" which they believe will be their last ever full tour, though they would never say never again. With bass player Frank Allen at 80 years of age and John McNally at 82, they have earned the right to slow down and their final tour is 28 dates over three months to say thank you to all of their fans over the last 60+ years.



The show began as the lights fell and a heartbeat started to thrum through the auditorium and what sounded like the five note scale from Close Encounters of the Third Kind played repeatedly, getting faster and faster until the band took to the stage to rapturous applause. And though the audience may have been "of a certain age" as Frank Allen likes to say, the Embassy Theatre boasted a very full audience who knew what they wanted to hear and The Searchers gave them exactly what they wanted.



Currently consisting of founder member John McNally, Frank Allen, Spencer James and Richie Burns the band took us on a two hour journey through their hits and more. They played some of their favourite tracks from their extensive back catalogue and added a number of other hits by other artists that they have enjoyed during their career.




As a result, an impromptu performance of two Buddy Holly songs in Peggy Sue and Oh Boy, went down a storm with the audience as did their own interpretation of Bob Dylan's Hey Mr Tambourine Man that had been a hit for The Byrds, who in turn had named The Searchers as an inspiration for their sound.



But it was the hits that the fans wanted to hear and he band did not disappoint. From Sweets For My Sweet through Sugar & Spice, Don't Throw Your Love Away, Love Potion Number 9, When You Walk In The Room and of course, Needles and Pins. I also enjoyed some of their less well known releases such as Take Me For What I'm Worth.



The songs are simple, fun and yet performed magnificently with harmonies not dissimilar to The Everly Brothers. The sound was solid and the lighting richly enhanced the performance and the show did not disappoint. It's sad to think that future audiences will be denied the opportunity to witness these stars live, and in person, but will always have the recordings that shot them to stardom. I salute their longevity and am grateful for the opportunity to see their last hurrah live. Their Thank You Tour continues until June 2024.


Andy Evans 08 April 2024

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