Monday, June 3, 2013

Gerry and the Pacemakers (Fallsview Casino)

The Avalon Theatre in the Fallsview Casino does not have a bad seat in the house. And the prices are good. We were in the third row, great sightlines, and tickets were only $34. Not bad to see Gerry & the Pacemakers. That is right...Gerry & the Pacemakers (not Gerry needs a pacemaker!). Trouble is that casino shows seem to be short. Gerry began his career playing all night long in the bars in Germany like their friends John, Paul, Ringo and George. Set after set of whatever songs they could learn, and rock up. Schmaltzy ballads, covers of Elvis or Jerry Lee Lewis, maybe a Broadway tune, you name it, they played it. Well, here we are, fifty years on and Gerry is still doing the same thing, only now he does it for 75 minutes. But he crammed a lot of songs into that hour and a quarter. Of course, The Pacemakers have changed, brother Freddie died in 2006, Les Chadwick and Les McGuire are long gone. Even Wikipedia has no record of their whereabouts. They have been replaced by Steve Thompson on guitar, Garth Watt-Roy on bass, drummer Mitch Oldham and bandleader-keyboardist Tony Young. As long as Gerry steps out front, singing with the same strong tenor he always has, they will always be Pacemakers. He is 72 years old now, has gained a bit of weight, and lost a little hair, but he continues to be a charming compere. He tells stories, like inheriting the Mitch Murray tune How Do You Do It when The Beatles turned it down, and getting a phone call from John Lennon, jealous when the song went to number one. Both Gerry and The Beatles hailed from Liverpool and worked the same clubs. Gerry was the second signing to manager Brian Epstein. After an opening number Mony, Mony, by The Pacemakers it was Gerry all the way. He worked his way through all the hits, How Do You Do It, I Like It, Ferry Cross the Mersey, Jambalaya, and more interspersing them with covers of rock and roll classics like Rip It Up or Great Balls of Fire. He showed a bit of temper (call it frustration) when the wireless pickup on his guitar crapped out. The battery needed replacing.
A good question really. The evening closed with a rendition of the Liverpool Football Club anthem, You'll Never Walk Alone. We all sang along. Seventy-five minutes flew by. We knew every song. Certainly the six sisters in the front row were on cloud nine. It was a wonderful night remembering days gone by, with one of the greats.

No comments: