by Roger Wink, VVN Music
Now this is how you put on a show for a bunch of fair goers (see our review of the Brian Wilson show for the wrong way to do it).
You're hot, you're tired and you just want to be entertained with a show of old favorites. That's what Peter Noone and his current crop of Herman's Hermits delivered at the New York State Fair this year in Syracuse.
According to fair officials, Herman's Hermits have made more appearances at the fair over the years than practically any other artist which has to be because the crowds absolutely adore them. Peter Noone, at 68, is still all over the stage singing the group's hits along with a lot of covers of other British Invasion songs and remains a master entertainer when it comes to engaging the audience with stories and a lot of comedy.
In the 60's, Herman's Hermits took their mix of novelty songs, hearkening back to the days of the British music halls, and pop hits to the top ten eleven times in the U.S., making them the third most popular group of the British Invasion after the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Even though their standard show was shortened for the state fair audience, they hit on the vast majority of those hits over the course of the concert.
Noone was all over the stage, talking and joking with audience members, at one point taking a copy of the group's Greatest Hits LP from a fan and singing an entire song behind a much younger picture of himself. He even brought the interpreter for the deaf, provided for all shows at the fair, to the middle of the stage to sign her own version of I'm Henry the Eighth and pulled out his cellphone so that he could shoot a video of the crowd singing Happy Birthday to send to his friend Barry Gibb who was about to turn 70.
There was also history. Noone said that Herman's Hermits actually recorded For Your Love before the Yardbirds and, although there are no readily available session information lists, this may be just a little stretching of the truth. The Yardbirds released the song on March 5, 1965 while Herman's Hermits added it to the British version of their first album which wasn't released until September of the same year. For Your Love was not included on the U.S. version which was put out much sooner, on February 13, 1965.
On the other hand, the song was written by Graham Gouldman who would go on to fame in 10CC, a writer that the Hermits seemed to have a relationship with. Along with For Your Love, Gouldman also wrote Listen People, No Milk Today, East West and a number of album cuts while they also covered his Bus Stop.
Noone voice is in great shape, belting out the rockers and taking on a softer tone for songs like Listen People. The rest of Herman's Hermits, most of which appear to be quite a bit younger than Peter, were also excellent.
The set list:
- I'm Into Something Good (single, 1964)
- Wonderful World (single, 1965)
- Love Potion No. 9 (Searchers cover)
- A Must to Avoid (from the soundtrack of Hold On!, 1966)
- Ring of Fire (Johnny Cash cover)
- Dandy (from There's a Kind of Hush All Over the World, 1967)
- I'm Telling You Now (Freddie and the Dreamers cover)
- Sea Cruise (from Hermania, 1964 (U.K. release only))
- Daydream Believer (Monkees cover)
- Jumpin' Jack Flash (Rolling Stones cover)
- Just A Little Bit Better (single, 1965)
- Silhouettes (single, 1965)
- Listen People (from the soundtrack of When the Boys Meet the Girls, 1965)
- Can't You Hear My Heartbeat? (from Herman's Hermits on Tour, 1965)
- Leaning on a Lamppost (from the soundtrack of Hold On!, 1966)
- For Your Love (from Herman's Hermits, 1965)
- Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter (from Herman's Hermits, 1965)
- I'm Henry the Eighth, I Am (from Herman's Hermits, 1965)
- There's a Kind of Hush (from There's a Kind of Hush All Over the World, 1967)