Des Henly's Rock and Roll Circus

Gig reviews - uk music papers

Concert Review:

15 Dec 1974 - London, Kings Road Theatre

On Sunday, at the ratty end of Chelsea, the King's Road Theatre opened it's doors for a double bill of rock'n'roll; pretty disastrous it was too.
First band on, Rock Bottom, were aptly named. They performed a selection of ritzy, vamped-up girl songs and tried Max Miller jokes about Marrows, very badly, and flashed a lot of leg, also very badly. Half of the audience seemed to be blood-relations which perhaps accounted for the receptions.
When Fumble came on (late) it transpired that the other half of the audience were from their record company and the atmosphere still never rose above tepid.
The trouble with Fumble is that their act is based around competent cover versions and little else, which is alright for a while but soon palls as elements of cabaret creep in.
Lead vocalist Des Henly has a pleasant stage manner and Sean Mayes is exciting when he puts some energy into it: "All Shook Up" and Bobby Vee's "The Night Has A Thousand Eyes" came across imbued with some of their original appeal but when it comes to Everly standards and Buddy Holly I'd rather hear the records.
Their own material is at least corny in the strictest doo-wop tradition although one number, "Marilyn", another song about Monroe, was really tasteless, proving that you can't whip up instant cheap nostalgia to order, especially when the subject's death isn't suitable for exhumation.
The new, ancient, single "Not Fade Away" and "Jailhouse Rock" did get different treatments, but it's hard to destroy classics like these and Cochran's "Weekend" anyway.
Because rock'n'roll is music for dancing to, not watching, the faults and monotony do become apparent when the audience is all seated, but Fumble could still do with a more dynamic stage presence.
Rock'n'roll is as exciting as any form of music, but when you take it too lightly then the bee-bops and the teddybears sound silly.
Max Bell
New Musical Express
Dec 28, 1974