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Sixties singers Mike and Dave Berry sell-out Criterion Theatre, Blue Town

By John Nurden

Two blasts from the past shook Sheppey last night. Mike Berry (Tribute to Buddy Holly) and Dave Berry (Cryin’ Game) both turned up for a double bill at Blue Town’s Criterion Theatre.

The 90-seat venue was packed as the pair of former 60s pop stars went through their acts.

Mike was on first and, despite being 74, still looked youthful with a full head of hair, smart white jacket and Fender Strat slung over his shoulders. Needless to say, age became a common theme of the night.

Mike Berry at the Criterion Theatre, Blue Town
Mike Berry at the Criterion Theatre, Blue Town

“I’m not really Mike Berry, I’m his son,” he quipped after performing Roy Orbison’s Only The Lonely. He entertained the audience with his relaxed, conversational style and an anecdote for nearly every song.

“My first hit in 1961, Tribute to Buddy Holly, was banned by the BBC,” he complained. “They thought it unethical that anyone should make money out of someone else’s death.”

He might not have made much money from it but it gave him the chance to play The Cavern Club in Liverpool where he topped the bill over The Beatles.

Mike (real name Mike Bourne but chose Berry in tribute to Buddy Holly) recalled: “Chas Hodges from Chas ‘n’ Dave was in my band at the time and we both remember being impressed by The Beatles’ harmonies.”

Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein invited both bands back to his house after the show and later instructed Paul McCartnery to run Mike back to his hotel.

Mike’s second hit was Don’t You Think It’s Time lasted 1min 40sec. He said: “You didn’t get a lot for your seven shillings and sixpence in those days!”

He then slipped into a series of tributes to Harry Webb, better known as Cliff Richard, with Livin’ Doll, Travellin’ Light and Move It.

It was Chas who suggested Mike record the 1913 song Sunshine of Your Smile and in 1980 Mike ended up with another hit and an entry in the Guinness Book of Records for the artist who had to wait the longest between chart hits.

Mike, who also played Mr Spooner in the TV sitcom Are You Being Served and Mr Peters in the children’s TVS series Worzel Gummidge, finished with the Buddy Holly song That’ll Be The Day.

Dave Berry at the Criterion Theatre, Blue Town
Dave Berry at the Criterion Theatre, Blue Town

Dave Berry, fresh from a show in Liverpool the previous night and now 76, started singing from the wings. By contrast to Mike he looked gaunt and with bags under his eyes but he told the crowd: “I’ve always looked like this. It saves me loads of money at Halloween.”

He had a slightly odd stage presence, a sort of geriatric punk with close-cropped hair and a strange black jacket with silver trimmings. He admitted that in his youth audiences had been scared of him as he manipulated the microphone into weird contortions.

He added: “You might be wondering why Mike went on first. Well, at his age he needs his early nights!” He added: “At any one time, you are looking at £1,000 of pensioner heating allowances on stage.”

He sang Little Things, Bad Moon Rising, This Strange Effect, Don’t Fade Away, Route 66, Stormy Monday Blues and Elvis Presley’s Mystery Train before starting a question-and-answer session with the audience.

When one wag asked how he kept looking so young he joked: “Drugs!” He also revealed his favourite band was Oasis. He said: “It brought back music as it should be. Where were all the working class bands? Now there are 17 and 18-year-olds playing in back rooms of pubs for their friends and family and that’s how it should be.”

He admitted he now appreciated Frank Sinatra. “I didn’t like him when I was young but you open up as you get older. Someone told me if you like the same things at 60 than you did at 30 then you haven’t learned anything.”

Dave began as a drummer following in his dad’s footsteps – his father had been a drummer in a swing band. Dave added: “Some people think I should have stayed a drummer!”

His final song was his 1964 hit The Cryin’ Game although he slipped off his jacket to return for an encore of Canned Heat’s Work Together.

The two Berries were backed by The Criterion Allstars featuring Mark Wright on lead guitar, Roger Nicholas (ex-Gidea Park) on bass, “London Jack” on drums and Barbara Hockey on keyboards.

The Criterion Allstars will return to Sheppey on Saturday September 16 with John Dymond (Beaky of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich) and Edison Lighthouse on October 28. Tickets £25 from 01795 662981.

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