I HAVE to make a confession. When I was a four-year-old my nan created a green sequin dance suit for me – a waistcoast and flared trousers. And every Thursday evening, for half-an-hour, Family Eyte were forced to leave the lounge so that Little Chris could dance by himself in front of the TV during ‘Top of the Pops’. I was an up-and-coming star.
But the bigger pop star by far in those days, in the early 80s, was of course Shakin’ Stevens. And I was definitely his biggest fan – as far as four-year-olds were concerned.
Fast forward 30 years and Grown Up Eyte was nervous about seeing his former pop favourite at the Theatre Royal (TR). Would he still thrill us? Some ageing stars can work the magic – Tom Jones for example. Other middle aged stars, to put it simply, can’t.
Shaky, now in his 60s, thankfully evoked cheeky charisma and wobbled his famous knees to great applause. He may be less of a teen heart throb these days but he was definitely a cool cat on stage.
Some of the 40-going-on-13 year old women in the audience didn’t notice the difference.
‘Shaky, Oi luuurve yooo’ shouted voluptuous shadows from the stalls. Shaky ignored them, despite acknowledging the ‘lovely audience’. I guess it was all about the music, man.
The 80s star’s voice still cracked harmoniously when breaking the big notes – but Mature Shaky also projects pleasant gravel tones, rather like a tom cat. It was poignant seeing this favourite icon doing ‘anniversary’ hits - many of which he wrote, ‘decades ago’. A bit of a dilemma for older pop stars. Do they just sing hits from yesteryear or try something new?
Shaky reached the middle ground with his country blues and rock n’ roll repertoire: some awesome past songs such as ‘Hot Dog’, ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ and ‘Green Door’ (a jazzed-up version which was slinky but I did miss hearing the high-pitched ‘green doo-oer’ shrieks from the original). He also gave ‘surprises’ from his current album, ‘Now Listen’ which had the audience rolling in their seats [you’re not allowed to stand up at the TR]. The 10-strong supporting band with three female backing singers also deserve a mention: technically brilliant.
My only criticism is the show could have been longer to get your money’s worth. My lady and I still had plenty of time afterwards to venture into a nearby hotel for coffee. “Is Shakin’ Stevens staying here?’ I ask the waiter. He asks for a description and then says no. “I think he’s a bit before my time,” he humbly confesses, adding: “and we only get X Factor stars in here.”
It may be that Shaky is not grabbing younger folk during his 30th anniversary tour yet. But he is an international star with a dedicated fan base out there - as proven by the packed crowds at the TR. People have a lot of affection for his music and this was a wonderful opportunity to rediscover the singer. I’m glad I did. Shaky in 2011 is a consummate professional. He’s back! And I need to get a larger green sequin suit.