BIG NIGHT FOR THE BEE GEES
(Concert review by Keith Altham, New Musical Express,
 April 6, 1968 - page 13)


Transcript by Anne Marie

What we got last Wednesday (and “wotalot we got”) at London’s Royal Albert Hall from the Bee Gees was a cross between an epic, stereophonic, operatic “Charge of the Light Brigade” (“Choir in front of them, orchestra behind them, into the valley of sound strode the 600”) and a “Ralph Reader Gang Show”!

The Bee Gees are a precocious talent who deserve to be encouraged to realise their full potential, but there is little point in having a 67 piece orchestra (two harps!) if you are going to drown them with amplified guitars and the incessant screaming of several hundred fans.

There is not much point in marching in a hundred assorted Air Force and Army brass bandsmen if they march into the stalls and blow their contributions toward the stage so that two thirds of the audience behind hear virtually nothing.

It is true, of course, that you can pick your musicians but not your audience. Those that had come to hear Robert Stigwood’s brave attempt to give the public value for money were disappointed, like me, at not being able to hear the Bee Gees’ often beautiful lyrics. And maybe those who came to scream were disappointed by the listeners’ apparent lack of enthusiasm.

Sadly I have a feeling that the Beatles would suffer from the same kind of split reaction if they ever played live again.

But what did we get? Plenty of Bee Gees, over forty minutes in fact, but through the cacophony of screaming the first few numbers all sounded like “Have You Seen My Wife Mrs Jones?” and I think “I can’t See Nobody” was in there. When Robin Gibb could make himself heard, ear cupped optimistically by a hand, his voice was for me far the most interesting. There is a broken quality about it, not unlike the same trod-on plaintiveness that is Tim Hardin’s, which is especially appealing.

One unrecorded title was “I’ve Decided To Join The Air Force” which was the signal for a ‘sortie’ by the Air Force Band. “Early Talkin’” signalled the uprising of a 100 strong mixed choir, who appeared vastly amused at their inclusion, and sang into one boom mike!

Fortunately the screamers who main target was Maurice Gibb, had begun to scream themselves out by the end of the concert and the Bee Gees were able to show their worth with “Words”, “Massachusetts” and a final stirring rendition of “World”.

I am really sorry that I cannot be more enthusiastic about this ‘poperama’. Those of you seeing the tour should fare better.

The others

What else? The Grapevine sang well, played well, harmonised well and left me stone cold with their stage presentation. But they are new to it all probably their best received number.

The Foundations achieved a nice sound balance and put plenty of punch into their act. “It’s All right” kicked them off and Clem Curtis was soon into their big hit “Baby Now That I’ve Found You” , two go-go dancers , Liz and Lindsey, bumped and ground around to “Help Me” and the good act wound up with “Back On My Feet Again”.

Dear old Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mike and Tich socked it to the teeny boppers without any inhibitions “Hold tight” and Dave is prancing and dancing producing screamerama, which is how it was and maybe again. “If I Were A carpenter” in Four Tops style and then the number dedicated to Dozy “Little Darlin’”. All good raw rock and roll. Dave gets pulled off the stage, of course, and has to be rescued. His shirt has now come agape, surprise, to revel manly chest.

Some ribald comedy variation on “Rosie” and “Cinderella Rockefella” with Dozy keeping into Dave’s arms. On to a string of big hits, “Zabadak”, “Bend it” and suddenly the group had six stalwart men in khaki march in salute smartly and fire a deafening round of blank cartridges from self loading rifles before marching off to thunderous applause.

On with the show and Dave beat into “Paint It Black” and got the whip out for “The Legend Of Xanadu” oh yes, all good healthy sex! You have to admire this group for what they are, not what they are not!

Compare Tony Hall did his usual competent job but was expected to hold the fort for too long between sets.

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