A mixed bag tonight, timeless 60’s & 70’s then bang up to date, hence the reference to the extremes in the title, since I’m talking about The Searchers in Wimborne followed by The Sarah Griffin Band in Boscombe.

I have an early start to the evening in Wimborne. A friend of mine from the radio station, Geneen, needs a lift to meet Frank Allen from The Searchers prior to seeing their show in the Tivoli Theatre.

Chatting to Frank in the green room he’s politely familiar and down to earth, without any of the pretensions that certain stars in his position can too easily adopt. For example, Frank admits he’s struggling to get back into the swing of touring after the Christmas break! Most of his focus is on the upcoming tour of Australia, since it’s something the band really look forward to each time they go.

None of your jaded faded rock star here – he’s genuinely interested in his fans; Geneen has interviewed Frank many times for her Principle Personalties show to publicise their gigs locally, although I think this is the first time they’ve managed to just chat together…

We leave Frank to his preparations for the show and so on into the concert. The Searchers put on a good spectacle, with a grand entrance then straight into a string of their hits across the time they’ve been playing. There are a number of humourous interruptions since this is a band that really encourage the audience and their participation – lots of singalong, barracking & heckling – all enthusiastically led on by the chaps.

The hit songs are punched out in mini-sets of 3’s and 4’s, then with a lot of banter between batches. Frank is an excellent front man (Spencer being the lead singer), with some great anecdotes mixed in with what I imagine must be stock phrases :-

“Flash photography is strictly …
 [Pause]
… permitted.
 – we don’t attract paparazzi so you’re the only chance we’ve got of getting into the papers”.

The humour continues in similar self-deprecating vein.  I struggle to describe and express the enjoyable time they give us on stage between minisets. Lots of backtalk and comic comments particularly between Frank and John, John as the “old man” of the group since Frank joined 46 years ago, after they’d been going a year. Spencer is predominantly left as the front man for the tunes – he has an amazing voice, able to pull off Roy Orbison and Del Shannon tributes in addition to their own material. Slightly surprisingly to me, Scott (drummer) is not really mentioned in the banter, yet he’s totally there making the foundation for the band – he’s joined within the past year, and appparently is the reason some other songs have been dusted off from the back catalogue.

After the gig, I drop Geneen home before heading over to Chaplins & The Cellar Bar.

Again, as per The Searchers, Sarah herself is becoming a great entertainer, encouraging heckles and audience interaction, ably suited to the Cellar Bar crowd.

By the way, check out Cellar Bar at http://www.beerintheevening.com/pubs/s/38/3802/Cellar_Bar/Boscombe

Sarah Griffin Band Cellar Bar

Sarah Griffin Band Cellar Bar

As I’ve previously intimated, I was captivated by Sarah’s new sound at the beginning of 2010, having heard her perform as a capable yet not-much-special acoustic singer songwriter from 2007. Indeed, the debut album was one of my first picks for the Listed column I write.

All the way through the gig the songs sound strong, going down really well with the eclectic mix of people jumping around. Having said that, it’s clearly the pacier tracks that this crowd desire, although all those played are crowd-pleasers in my opinion – it does help that I’ve become an ardent fan in the past year.

Some new songs get their first outing tonight as well, while they’re not quite as strong as the well gigged album songs, they don’t dis-satisfy either, which hopefully means they’ll be left in the set list to grow their gig life. E.g. Shot To Pieces features the usual wonderful harmonies between Sarah and backing singer Carolyn.

Again, I struggle to find words to explain the repeat encores (literally – the band repeat some of their “happy songs” for their encores). To sum up, another great Saturday night of ace music in the area, even given the amazing difference in timeline extremes.