Don't Call Us
Sitting On A Rainbow
Gotta Get Out Of This Rut
A Talk With Your Father
Don't Really Care About Love
I Shouldn't Fall In Love With You
I Could Never Live Without You
Dancing In The Moonlight
Pie In The Sky
Dance Till Dawn
Never Go Out In The Rain
The Late Late Train
Top Hat And Tails
Down By The River
I Can Sing High
All My Life
The first public performance of High Society in this incarnation is at a cocktails and canapes evening at the Red Lion in Isleworth, with the locals turning out in thirties style clobber. Some refined nibbles and cocktails were on offer for those who'd bought food tickets (though there was plenty around and Bev our hostess took an early decision to offer food to non-payers - thanks Bev!
High Society's show is consistently stylish, with cleverly constructed songs, Coward-style rhymes, and lots going on on the harmony front, along with a few cute tricks (like the pretended record jumps in "I Could Never Live Without You"). Front man Terence Cooke's voice is perfect for this sort of twenties-style music - elegant vocals over 3 voices of oooh-aah harmonies and jazzy syncopated chords in the background, with Nigel Portman-Smith in white suit ("the minicab driver from Havana" according to T.C.) laying down a solid foundation on his melodic bass. matched by Hud, playing away from his drums on rhythm guitar in natty evening dress. Also decoratively attired in evening dress, Simon Bishop's guitar parts shine particularly - an stylish period sound, mostly played on a beautiful old guitar which sounds and looks the part.
The first half concentrated on the classic High-Soc numbers, most taken from their 1984 CD High Society and nicely arranged for the current line-up - the overall sound is accomplished and authentic. All the numbers are written by High Society (which in those earlier days included John Ford), they'd fit right into any movie of the time or a thirties palm court tearoom at the Ritz.
A few new excursions in the second half as they expand the style a little further - a highlight for me was the laid back country style "Beautiful Evening", three songs into the second half. Simon Bishop's impossibly fluid country licks and the band's classy harmonies together lifted the second half to a new level, bringing the audience in as a "yippee-eye-aye" chorus.
The audience willingly participated, filling out the chorus on "Never Go Out In The Rain" (for which the band adopted a brusquer than usual background vocal style to match them. The more recently written "Down By The River" which spoofs the Millennium Dome and all things technological ("my interactive sweetheart" ... met "in the androgynous zone") also has a cracking chorus and hook, the audience joining in with gusto. The second set finished with the pyrotechnic "I Can Sing High" - T.C.'s yodelling to the fore.
The whole band, hard to capture in this configuration
Eastern promise, eastern electronics courtesy of Mr. Casio
A surprise delight as the first encore was a number T.C. announced as having a "hint of Eastern promise" - picking up the wee Casio keyboard plugged into the mixer, he generated the wail of an Eastern fiddle, whilst Simon and Hud donned appropriate headgear, Simon moving to an Eastern style oud or something similar. A novelty instrumental, recreating the authentic sound of the Kasbah (that's the coffee bar in Kilburn round the corner from T.C.'s house) with an all join in chorus "under Osama's armpit"! And to finish, a paean to the legion of managers in the music business - "All My Life (I Give You Nothing And Still You Ask For More" - cheque's in the post quips Hud in falsetto tones.
Between acts, a couple of poems/monologues from local lady, Sally - the first about the sexual proclivities of her cat, the second, the tale of a lost opportunity d'amour which a chap she met but failed to bag on the District line - he got off at Baronscourt Park. Nicely observed, well delivered.
Definitely NOT Strawbs - acoustic or otherwise - but highly enjoyable nonetheless.
Hud's good mate and Hudson-Ford drummer Ken Laws was in the audience (flew from Blackpool no less!) to enjoy the show. He took a few shots of the boys, which he's sent me. Thanks Ken.