Rock ’n’ roll is here to stay – in safe hands

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Showaddywaddy, Alnwick Playhouse, Friday and Saturday.

THE most difficult member of any band to replace has to be the lead singer.

He or she is not only the sound of the group but also its image.

But it must be particularly hard when that frontman is Dave Bartram, the charismatic vocalist of Showaddywaddy from its formation in 1973 until he decided to retire, aged 60, at the end of last year.

Dave, the archetypal ‘hard act to follow’, was more than just original band member, lead singer and frontman, he was also band manager and inspiration.

But the rock ’n’ roll revivalists have really landed on their feet in discovering Andy Pelos, who, judging by Saturday’s gig at the Alnwick Playhouse, is filling Dave’s size-10 brothel creepers admirably.

He has the voice, the looks and the presence to take Showaddywaddy into their fifth decade. At times, he had the audience in the palm of his hands, with sharp banter, entertaining antics and excellent singing, building a great rapport and engaging everyone in hand-jiving or dancing.

The band has seen a number of changes over the years, including the departure of guitarist Russ Field, from Beadnell, in 1985. But two original members remain – drummer Romeo Challenger and Rod Deas on bass. Remarkably, at 61 and 64 respectively, they can still rock with the best of them.

The current line-up is completed by Paul Dixon on guitar, Dean Loach on keyboards and the amazingly versatile Rob Hewins on guitar, drums, percussion and vocals.

Showaddywaddy made their name reviving the teddy-boy look, with drainpipe trousers, bright, draped jackets and quiffs, covering hits from the 1950s and 1960s, and they combined slickly on Saturday to trot out some rock ’n’ roll standards in the first half, including Runaround Sue, Dancin’ Party, Remember Then, Sweet Little Rock ’n’ Roller and a super acoustic version of Blue Moon.

The big numbers were reserved for the second half, which was curiously kicked off with the Dambusters theme. What followed was a conveyor belt of their hits – You Got What It Takes, Pretty Little Angel Eyes, When, Three Steps to Heaven, interspersed with other classics, like Summertime Blues and Jailhouse Rock.

It culminated with their first single, Hey Rock And Roll, which really had the Playhouse jumping.

Age may be taking its toll on the original band members, but after this performance, Showaddywaddy’s future is in safe hands.