Sound Of Fury half-century marked
Gavin Stanley, who played Billy in Jack Good's Good Rockin' Tonight show, marked the 50th anniversary of the release of Billy's ground-breaking The Sound Of Fury LP with a dynamic show at The Cavern, Liverpool, on May 21 2010.
Before an enthusiastic audience of about 100, Gavin was backed by a live band, The Gutterfighters.
His first set featured the complete LP. From questions to the audience in between the songs, it became clear that a clear majority of guests were unfamiliar with much of the material. We tend to forget that revolutionary as it was, The Sound Of Fury was not a big seller at the time.
Nevertheless, both Gavin and the set proved to be a big hit with the audience.
After the break, he was on more familiar territory, with several of Billy's hits and stage numbers, climaxing with Halfway To Paradise.
The event was held in The Cavern's second room, which for the first time broke with tradition by providing seating on large padded stools.
Pics by (I believe) Terry Wafer of the Like I've Never Been Gone show at Gladstone Theatre, Port Sunlight, January 30th-February 3, 2007, starring Tony Cain as Billy.
(You virtually fall
off the train at Port Sunlight into the theatre.so no excuses, you
See previous show
Of Liverpool Life, 10 July 2004
He changes the words to
Colette to accommodate them and they
are still unimpressed by the tune. What did they know eh?
(Spencer Leigh's review of the extended play for the BBC)
The Dingle Community Theatre's production of "Like I've Never Been Gone" at the Unity Theatre was somewhat shambolic with forgotten props and little sense of the period in either dress or language, but it didn't matter. The play was performed with such enthusiasm and joie de vivre that it was carried by its charm and a star performance from Tony Cain as Billy Fury. It was more enjoyable than the "The Sound Of Fury" musical, which was at the Liverpool Playhouse 10 years ago.
Billy Fury, originally Ronnie Wycherley, came from the Dingle and the playwright, Alan Bower, has concentrated on his formative years. He shows Ronnie with his schoolboy friend, Billy Hatton, wanting to make it but knowing that the creditable rock'n'roll stars were American. There is a hilarious scene where Ronnie (Tony Cain) and Billy Hatton (Mark O'Leary) visit a sailor (Gerard Fitzpatrick Howkins) about some records he has brought home from America. When Fury himself is working on the ferries, his workmates suggest that he should write a song about the Royal Iris and he says, "No one from the Dingle will ever have a hit with a song about the ferry." We see how his first girlfriends inspired his songs "Collette" and "Margo".
The production doesn't shirk from showing Fury as a perpetual womaniser, but did he really lose his virginity to a gangster's moll, played by Veronica Kelly? He was a brave lad if he did. Girls come and go in the production and as they are played by the same actresses, I lost of track of who was by Billy's side, but maybe that was the author's intention. The script was keener to tell us what was happening next rather than concentrating on what is happening on the stage now.
Much more could have been made of Fury's relationship with his parents - how had his illness interfered with his education? Did it lead to him being spoilt? His lack of formal education apparently made him easy prey for the manager Larry Parnes (Richard Helm), but I suspect that Fury himself was complicit in his own problems. Parnes is depicted as a monster but he has a moment of self-doubt when he narrates Fury's hit, "I Will".
I don't mind plays taking liberties with the facts as long as they remain true to the characters, but any biographical play should show the main character on a journey. How did his character develop? In this case, how did Fury's relationships with his family change? Did his father come round to accepting his music, or did he die? We are not told. Did Fury only nurse doubts about artistic integrity when he was cast in "Aladdin"? How did Fury regard his reduced longevity? As his illness is crucial to his relationship with Larry Parnes, we needed a scene with a doctor to give us the facts about Fury's health. As it is, he appears to have operations which did no good at all.
The music is provided by the 60s band, the Fourmost, who have reformed for the occasion. It was great to see the real Billy Hatton on stage alongside the drummer Dave Lovelady, Joey Bower (Alan's brother) and Dave Morgan (from Kenny Johnson's Northwind). They play an audition for Larry Parnes as the Silver Beatles and Joey (in his sixties) plays Stu Sutcliffe with his back to the audience. See what I mean about charm? The Fourmost back Tony Cain very effectively and I hope it isn't too long until they return to their hits.
Tony Cain has Fury's looks but he should have studied Fury's mannerisms. Fury had a very distinctive stage persona and it would not have been much trouble to seek that out. He always looked immaculate both on and off stage but Cain's outfits were dull. It was ridiculous to save the gold lamť jacket until the end of the show. Similarly, Larry Parnes was a very smart dresser and should have been shown as such.
Billy's road manager Hal Carter (Richie Grice) is played as a well-meaning buffoon and the Vernons Girls are cartoon cutouts. They were poorly miked so that we lost their backing vocals. It's all evidence that the production has been mounted on a shoestring but with more care, they could, and should, have had more authenticity. For example, the language and the phrases of the period should have been in the script instead of contemporary terms of abuse.
"Like I've Never Been Gone" has had a three night run at the Unity but the Dingle Community Theatre hopes to take it further. With more polishing, they could have something that does well. The full house loved it and it was good to see both Billy's mother, Jean, and his brother, Albie, in the audience. I wondered what Albie was thinking - he is not a character on stage but he is accused of pinching his brother's shirts. He now has a tribute act to his brother but were the seeds being sown in 1962?