In the mid-1960s “Herman’s Hermits” was a household name, as TV hosts with other household names like Ed Sullivan, Jackie Gleason, and Dean Martin announced the band…and the band launched into songs with household names like “I’m into Something Good” and “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter”…all emanating from little black-and-white television sets in living room corners of American households. Bounding into the United States right after the Beatles, Herman’s Hermits appeared as an overly-British act with bouncy sing-along songs, led by a charming teenager named Peter Noone. Later on, the band charted with more household-name songs like “Listen People,” “There’s a Kind of Hush,” and the corny “I’m Henry VIII, I Am.” And more than fifty years later, a group of musicians perform those same songs, in the same overly-British manner, led by a charming 71-year-old named Peter Noone.
“Herman’s Hermits Starring Peter Noone” (as they are now billed, at least in the U.S.) came rollicking onto the City Winery stage in NYC on June 27…and I mean rollicking. Against a U.K. flag backdrop, Mr. Noone entertained the audience with hammy jokes, at one point holding up an HH album with his likeness on the cover (“This is what CDs used to look like,” he quipped) and placing it in front of his head so he would appear as his 1960s teenage self. And during one number guitarist Vance Brescia went into wacky-dance mode with some outrageous leg kicks.
Oh, the music. Beginning with “I’m into Something Good,” “Wonderful World,” and the Searchers’ “Love Potion No. 9,” Noone and friends tossed off one hit after another, including “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat,” “A Must to Avoid,” “Travellin’ Light,” “Dandy,” “Leaning on the Lamp Post” (with Noone leaning on his mic stand lamp post), “Listen People,” “No Milk Today,” and their versions of the 1957 classic “Silhouettes,” Frankie Ford’s 1959 hit “Sea Cruise,” and Skeeter Davis’ 1962 tearjerker “The End of the World.” In between the band teased the crowd with aborted renditions of “Ring of Fire,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (who needs Mick when you got Peter!), and Gerry and the Pacemakers’ “Ferry Cross the Mersey” (Noone playing to the New Yawkas by singing “So ferry cross New Jersey”). Plus full-length performances of the Monkees’ “Daydream Believer” (with the audience basically singing instead of Noone) and even the Beatles’ “All My Lovin’”! The set ended on a fun but rather predictable note with the mighty triumvirate of “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter,” “I’m Henry VIII, I Am” (with required sing-along – “Third verse, even worse!”), and “There’s a Kind of Hush.”
Peter Noone was born in Lancashire, England, formed the band in Manchester, and now makes his home in Santa Barbara, California. Thus, Herman’s Hermits Starring Peter Noone tours regularly in the U.S…so they oughta be rollicking into a city near you anytime now!
Tune in next time for a taste of “honey”!
Images courtesy voxac50.org.uk/stanlaundon.com, discogs.com, pinterest.com; City Winery YouTube video courtesy parkerbros; City Winery photo by me.