Solihull Shindig ~ Report

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On Friday 27 April the audience at the Dovehouse Theatre in Solihull was treated to a unique evening of entertainment from Gary Walker and Mike Powell.  Many of Gary’s fans had travelled from around the UK to support him in this new venture, and they were richly rewarded.

Mike Powell, billed as the voice of Matt Monro and Scott Walker, opened the show with a set consisting mainly of Matt's songs, along with a couple of 'swing' numbers that Mike introduced by asking if there were "any swingers in tonight", which provided the first of many laughs throughout the evening!  Mike was very warmly received from the outset, and the substantial contingent of Matt fans in the audience were particularly enthusiastic in their applause.  As Mike came to the end of his first set, he gave Gary a glowing introduction, and was clearly a little overwhelmed as he described his feelings about one of his "heroes" appearing on the same stage with him.

Gary strode confidently on to the stage, looking very smart in a black suit and white t-shirt.  After thanking Mike for his excellent opening set, Gary immediately began his story-telling.  The subjects flowed back and forth from his childhood in Hollywood, through his teenage years, and his hectic life spent as one third of The Walker Brothers.  Naturally many of Gary's tales related to the times he spent with Scott in the 60s and 70s, which provided quite a different insight on the man that Gary knew so well.  Gary's stories from his childhood included a poignant tale about his pet chicken..........named Bambi!  Gary also invited the audience to participate in a 'question and answer' session, which led him on to many other reminiscences.  The questions covered a wide range of subjects from Gary's feelings about all the fan adulation in the 60s, his favourite Walker Brothers' song (Just Say Goodbye), and more personal questions like the lady who asked if Gary remembered taking cups of tea out to her and many of the other queuing fans in the early hours at London's Finsbury Park Astoria in the 60s.  Gary did remember!

All too soon, Gary’s part of the show came to an end as he told us that it was time for everybody to head out to the bar for a short intermission.  The second half began with Gary slowly emerging from the large black curtains surrounding the stage, and he threatened to carry on talking for the rest of the night, which he clearly could have done.  He somehow managed to persuade himself that his task this time was to re-introduce Mike for his Scott and Walker Brother set.  Gary explained that it might be "a kinda spooky experience, especially if you close your eyes for a moment or two", and he was certainly right about that!

After a short and humorous exchange with Gary, Mike launched effortlessly into Scott's On Your Own Again, and it was indeed very "spooky", even with your eyes open!  Between songs Mike spoke in his quiet and unassuming way about his great love and respect for The Walker Brothers' music, and about some of the tough times those songs had helped him through.  Most of the audience could certainly relate to those feelings.  Mike's set continued with Make It Easy On Yourself, and Joanna, before he went on to explain that he had been up until the early hours working on the next song.  It was Another Tear Falls, and was a simply stunning rendition that brought a few tears to most eyes.  This was followed by the equally powerful Stay With Me Baby and Scott's solo hit The Lights Of Cincinnati.  Mike continued with his own "Walker style" arrangement of the Matt Monro song Before You Go, which he said he wished the Walkers had recorded.  The final song was, of course, The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore, which received a rapturous and emotional reception.  Amid the applause, Gary returned to thank Mike, and he confessed that a few of those songs had "brought a tear to the eye" as he was transported back in time while listening backstage.  Gary then introduced Mike's encore, and said that he had thought about singing this one with Mike, but "maybe next time!"  Mike then ended the night with a spectacularly authentic No Regrets.

After the show, both Gary and Mike spent time in the foyer signing autographs, posing for photographs and chatting with all the people who had stayed on to congratulate them on their sensational show.  Many fans were thrilled to have an opportunity to talk to Gary, especially those who hadn’t seen him for almost 40 years. One fan in particular, Wendy, was completely taken by surprise when Gary presented her with a pair of drumsticks.  In the 60s, Wendy won Gary's drumsticks in a fan club competition, but sadly she did not receive her prize.  Wendy's long-suffering friend, Maureen, having heard the story of the missing drumsticks so many times over the past 40 years, realised that there might be an opportunity to rectify the situation during Gary's visit to Solihull.  Unbeknown to Wendy, Maureen had contacted Gary via his website during the previous week, so when it was Wendy's turn to talk to Gary, she finally received the drumsticks, and Gary signed them for her while they were chatting.

When everybody left the theatre, Gary and several of his Yahoo Discussion Group members retired to a nearby bar for a well-earned drink, more story-telling and lots of laughter.  The party then moved on to the hotel next door, where it continued way into the early hours.  During the evening, Gary was presented with a small gift to thank him for yet another memorable get-together.  As always, all good things come to an end and eventually it was all over……...until the next time.


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