Shakin’ Stevens “Greatest Hits - and More!” 2019 tour stopped off at The Queen’s Hall Edinburgh tonight and despite the adverse weather throughout the day across much of Scotland, “the faithful” turned up to make this another SOLD OUT show with “Shaky” obviously still giving his fans exactly what they want to see and hear.
I have to admit that the whole Rock’n’Roll revival of the mid to late 1970s and early 1980s was a music scene that I was never into and I just let Shakin’ Stevens shake right on past me at the time. Of course, in truth, it was not really a revival as Rock’n’Roll/rockabilly had never really gone away and bands like “The Cramps”. and "The Stray Cats",(plus many others) would add their own spin onto the music at the time too. Towering above everyone though in record sales was one man – Shakin’ Stevens (aka Michael Barratt) - with 33 hit (Top 40) singles and four UK No. 1s to his name, making him the UK's biggest-selling artist of the 1980s. Add into this album sales and worldwide sales, and those sales figures just keep on growing. With a record sales history like this, I just had to finally see Shakin’ Stevens in concert and try and understand why this man is still so popular.
The 1980s have of course come and gone for all of us who were there, and Shakin’ Stevens is now 71 years old, but the really nice thing about this fact is that his fans over the years have not only aged with him, but allowed him to age with them, and that has created a very unique bond between the two, and “Shaky” arrived on stage here to a reception that I have rarely seen for any artist I have reviewed over the years, an absolutely instant connection, almost like a rock’n’roll Messiah had just arrived. This was not though just an “oldies” night out as the age range in the audience started from young children upwards.
The tour is called “Greatest Hits - and More!”, and that is exactly what the audience got here as hit after hit was delivered with little pause in between songs. This is however 2019 and not 1980 and Shakin’ Stevens cannot be expected to have the same vocal range of someone 40 years earlier, and anyone expecting the same voice as the one on the original records is I think being unrealistic. Having said that though, huge crowd pleasers like "Green Door", "Oh Julie", "This Ole House", “Marie Marie” and many more were all delivered in strong vocal style, and the sheer enjoyment that these songs brought to many in the audience was a pleasure to watch. To be able to let people forget any personal troubles they might have for a few hours and turn the clocks of their lives back a few decades (or more) and re-live their youth for a little while is a special gift to have, and Shakin’ Stevens knows exactly how to use those talents to best advantage.
Everything was not all the hits of 40 years ago though and Shakin’ Stevens has been making a lot of new music over the years, and songs like “Last Man Alive” and” Down Into Muddy Water” have some serious depth to their lyrics. The most current album, “Echoes of our Times”, inspired by research into his own family history, is well worth anyone checking out too. With a nine piece band on stage with him, Shakin’ Stevens is not touring lightly either and making sure that songs old and new get the sound that they and the fans deserve. Details of the new album and tour dates are available at http://shakinstevens.com/
Opening the show for us this evening, the “Boogie Woogie” duo of Gavin Povey (vocals & keyboards) and Shane Atlas (drums/percussion & vocals). Gavin Povey has an obvious and very infectious life-long love of “Boogie Woogie” and has worked over the years with many well-known performers both in the recording studio and live. And here the band did exactly what a warm up band should do – get the audience ready for the main act. For more information visit https://gavinpoveyband.com
Review by Tom King