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  • ELO founder plays his hits at resort’s theatre

    By Ron Ellis

    Roy Wood and his Rock’n’Roll Band.
    Southport Theatre

    ONE might expect that the man who formed The Move, Wizzard and E.L.O., who could play a whole range of instruments and had numerous chart successes in the 60s and 70s with his own material would be up there among the giants of rock’n’roll, alongside Rod Stewart and Elton John, playing large arenas worldwide.

    Instead, his latest tour sees Roy Wood playing smaller theatres up and down the country which is how he ended up at Southport Theatre last Thursday night.

    Amazingly, there was little publicity before the show and no merchandising to be had on the night. Not even a programme!

    The show was billed to start at 7.30pm but there was no sign of the star. Instead, a young girl called Emma Johnson entertained us for 40 minutes with a selection of pleasant, mainly self-composed, boogie-woogie piano tunes after which there followed a 25 minute interval before Roy Wood finally appeared.

    His backing group was excellent and consisted of a four piece brass section, keyboard, drummer, bass guitar and his long time backing singer, Shell Taylor, who joined him on most of his songs.

    This was the first time I had seen Roy’s live performance although I once had a coffee with him in a Birmingham nightclub in 1978. He has a doctorate in music, has been enrolled in the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame yet his stage demeanour bears no resemblance to a pop legend. There was little sense of occasion.

    He chatted amiably to the audience in his Brummie accent: “Cold tonight for us pensioners ain’t it? You wanna be up ‘ere, it’s freezin’.”

    We had all the hits from Flowers In The Rain, Angel Fingers, See My Baby Jive right through to the great finale of I wish it could be Christmas everyday with the audience singing along, before the band wandered off with a wave. “We’re too knackered to do encores”.

    It was an act more suited to playing a circuit of clubs, pubs and dance halls. In fact, had it not been for the opulence of the theatre, this could have been a gig at the Klic Klic Club or the Iron Door in the early Sixties.

    And none the worse for that.

    Star Rating. 6 out of 10. Not the big extravaganza I expected.

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