By Sallie Phillips
Shakin’ Stevens is back!
The Cardiff-born singer, nicknamed ‘The Welsh Elvis’ due to his musical style, performed at St. David’s Hall on Sunday 3 March. Backed by a 10-man strong band, this was one of Shaky’s first performances back in his hometown, and certainly the first time I have ever seen him perform live.
I like the music of Shakin’ Stevens because of his old rock n’ roll style, the way his music, big in the 80s and 90s, brought back that classic rock last seen in the 1950s, mostly pioneered by Elvis. For me, it was like my favourite era of music had been reborn when I was introduced to Shaky’s music for the first time, and because of that, my favourite songs from his repertoire all have that similar style of old rock to them.
The support act for Shakin’ Stevens, a Danni Nicholls, was also very good. I have been to concerts previously where I didn’t feel the support got the crowd going properly, but this musician was particularly good and I really enjoyed her warn-up performance.
Despite the fact that my friend and I were the youngest in the audience by about 20 years, there were still some fairly big hits to enjoy. Given his age, Shakin’ Stevens hasn’t lost any of his recognisable tone of singing voice or ‘dance moves’, and during the performance he was often seen bopping with the band during instrumental sections.
Some of the big hits he played included ‘Marie, Marie’, ‘Green Door’, ‘It’s Raining’, ‘Radio’ and ‘Turning Away’. These were all songs I recognised and felt somewhat pleasantly surprised when he sang his hit ‘A Love Worth Waiting For’ for the first time in years, admitting it hadn’t been in his live set for a while. I do have my favourite Shaky songs, and was delighted that two of them got played live: ‘Cry Just a Little Bit’ closed the first half of the show, and ‘Lipstick, Powder and Paint’ closed the second half. Shakin’s smash hit ‘This Ole House’, which first bought him fame in 1981, was one of two songs played in a much-welcomed encore, something I fully expected when this song was not part of the main set.
Despite the fact that there were a number of songs that I recognised and was able to enjoy, he also played a number of songs from later albums that I didn’t know, and also felt they were a little bit of a removal from the genre of music he is famous for. Generally, both my friend and I thought the songs were ‘countryfied’ a little, so didn’t necessarily sound the way they were originally recorded as rock n’ roll songs. Partly because of this, I was minorly disappointed, especially when some of the other songs seemed not only unusual, but entirely different, and not what I would have expected from him at all.
I think my final verdict would be, if you came for vintage Shakin’ Stevens, this was not it, but there were some big hits you could enjoy, and I did. Although there were a few disappointments with song choices, I still felt it was a great night out and I appreciate the opportunity to see this man perform live, as to me, he is one of the greats whose music recreates a bygone era of one of the greatest styles of music – rock n’ roll.