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Joe Brown proves you are never too old to Rock & Roll

by Philip Coppell. Published Sat 10 Oct 2009 09:04, last updated: 10/10/09

In a week where the retirement age was making the news, Joe Brown, well past retirement age showed the Philharmonic audience that you are never too old to Rock and Roll.

Joe Brown is a true Pop Legend, he was backing Johnny Cash, Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran on their British tours, while still a teenager, appearances on “Boy meets Girl” an early pop show made him a household name, which in turn lead to a recording career, his first record to chart was a version of “The Darktown Strutters Ball” when Joe was backed by The Bruvvers for the first time.

On several of his early shows The Beatles were the opening act, this lead to his meeting with George Harrison and a life long friendship.

An impressive line up of 17 stringed instruments, plus a Double Bass, a solo Snare Drum and a full drum kit set the scene for Joe Brown and his band.

Joe walked on stage to tremendous applause and said “What a wonderful welcome, I hope I can live up to it.

He then welcomed on stage the members of his band, son Pete, Phil Capaldi, Roland Jones and Mike Nichols. The evening off with The Ballard of Mississippi John Hurt, third song in and it was the turn of drummer Phil Capaldi to sing, “Don’t Be Cruel”. Phil could easily have an alterative career as an Elvis impersonator, he was that good.

From U2 to Bob Dylan via Gallagher and Lylle, with country songs and a self penned Reggae song from Joe's son Pete, “A Reggae song by a white bloke from Walton on Thames” which was not out of place in this musical mix. Joe sang his surprisingly only No 1 “That Wonderful Picture Of You” and a Ukulele solo, “Not too loud for you” asked Joe and then went off for a cup of tea.

"Duelling Banjos”, well Banjo and Guitar with Joe on Banjo and son Pete on Guitar got the second half rocking. This is not nepotism, Pete Brown is an in demand record producer who has worked with Status Quo, Dusty Springfield, The Specials and George Harrison, as well as producing sister Sam's world wide hit “Stop” and toured with her band for many years. Pete is also an accomplished songwriter.

Joe's rendition of George Harrrison's “That’s The Way It Goes” with son Pete having the unenviable task of the guitar solo, was a triumph. Joe's first wife, Vicki, who died in 1991, was a Liverpool girl. Joe said he had plenty of relatives here in Liverpool.

It was difficult to guess what was coming next; Joe and the band just enjoyed themselves as well as entertaining a very appreciative audience. From a Chris Struthers “Ageing’ Ballard, that Joe said he got off Youtube to a little heard Travelling Wilburys song “Poor House”.

Ironic that The film The Godfather was shown at The Philharmonic on Monday evening and Joe, The Godfather of Music, choose to include an Italian Wedding Theme played on mandolin, it was that sort of night. Another of Joe's hits “Sea of Heartbreak” was followed by “a tune I have been playing since I was 12, “Hava Nagila” the Jewish dance song. For the old Teddy Boys came the rockabilly hits of Carl Perkins including “Honey Don’t” once sung by Ringo, Joe does it much better.

Pete Brown wrote “You’re Never Too Old to Rock and Roll” for his Dad and on this showing Joe is not. Another Joe hit “I’m Henry the Eighth I am” was bringing us to a close.

The light show was very simple and shows that you do not need to over do it with flashing lights, as was the musical volume, even if some of the mature members of the audience did have hearing problems the musical volume was just right, a lesson for bands who mistake volume for talent. Roland Jones, playing left handed guitar, now who else does that? Had a solo number, there was only Mike Nichols on a variety of instruments, but mainly Double Bass who did not sing a solo.

Most singers end with a rousting song, but not Joe, as well known for his friendship with George Harrison, as he is as an entertainer. George was Best Man at Joe's second wedding. Joe often worked with George and did backing on George's last album, the sublime “Brainwashed’ Joe was asked to sing, by George's wife Olivia, at the Concert for George in 2002 at the Albert Hall. Joe closed that show with his version “See You in My Dreams” accompanying himself on Ukulele. It has become his signature tune.

Joe closed the show at The Philharmonic with “See You in My Dreams” to a standing ovation.

At the start of the show Joe hope that he could live up to the wonderful welcome, well he did. This was a great show, with great musicians, singing great songs, playing great music in a great venue to a greatly appreciative audience. The next time Joe and his band are in the area, do not miss this show.



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"Sold out again here this saturday 15th can't wait" Brian, lichfield around 3 years, 9 months ago

"Saw Joe on Fri 5th 1st time here for about 6 years.No change except for the Band- all great versatile material.Come back Joe!!" Dave Quinton, Portsmouth around 5 years, 5 months ago

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