Des Henly's Rock and Roll Circus

Gig reviews - uk music papers

Concert Review:

31 May 1973 - Paris

Paris Rock

Paris - you know, that place everyone loves in the Spring – looks deserted. Along the boulevards, shops are strangely quiet – no, closed! And where are the people? It’s midweek at the very hub of continental highlife, and the city is dead. Has some great disaster befallen this beautiful capital? No. It’s nothing more serious than Ascension Day, a national holiday.
Maybe everyone’s in curch I think as we ask a kid whe the rock’n’roll concert is
"Ah oui, rock and roll." His face lights up and I feel I won’t be surprised if he kisses his fingers and throws his hand in the air.
Fumble, those masters of the rock’n’roll time zone, are the band we’ve come to see, though manager John Sherry wants to double check the venue. There follows a crash course in "Franglais" much ouiing and s’il vous plaiting, and we’re off to an enormous indoor arena way out of town.
Now you know something is going on when motor cyclists ask the taxi driver the way then tag along behind. When we arrive there’s a big change. Just around the corner from the entrance gate we see rows of police vans and quite a few helmeted storm troopers. What’s going on there?
But first we have to get past the gate security. John and friend Michael do their French bit again and we end up with a pass made out to "Monsieur Fumble". It’s funny but the urchins pleading with us to take them in don‘t see the joke.
We head towards the cavernous hall with it’s Sydney Opera House type design and realise that Fumble are on. We can hear them from 400 yards away.
Going in is like entering a circus big top and the sound is a deafening distortion that hits you, grabs you, and draws you down to the stage where a milling mass of rockers, greasers and plain stoned out suckers are whooping it up "Ah, oui, rock’n’roll."
On Stage the expected riot is going on, yet in a cleverly controlled way that allows the band to keep it together. Maybe a dozen greasers, real mean looking greasers with hair slicked back, leather and badges, get their rocks off with the band.
Des Henly’s roaring Jailhouse Rock and doing a funky chicken at the same time with one of the greasers. It looks good down here and the sound is clear. A lethered greaser next to me dances away on his own. Suddenly he flings his floppy hat in the air, jumps after it, twists then lands with his hat back on his head and carries on dancing. Everybody’s having a good time.
Everywhere it’s the same. All round the front of the stage an army of kids, many very young boppers amongst them, freak about to the music. They LOVE rock’n’roll.
They seem to love everything Fumble do as each song takes them higher and higher. Yet these aren’t revivalists into the music of the 50‘s, they are kids who have never known any different. They wear the same uniform, they flash a round on bikes, get pissed and probably love a good scrap. I think of the police outside, but everything is cool, music reigns supreme
Fumble stick to the big hits of that golden era back in the 50‘s. Oh Carol, Hello Mary Lou, Poetry In Motion, Nut Rocker,Teddy Bear... and so on.
The set ends with Go Johnny Go and they’re yelling for more. But it’s a tight show, no encores, and on comes a french band whose singer is painted pink and wear blue shorts. Someone says it’s Albert And His Fanfare.
Backstage a bottle of Whiskey goes round and Mario, Fumble’s bassist tells how he got left behind at Calais. "We suddenly realised he wasn’t with us," says electric piano player Sean Mayes. "And we’d been going for about 20 kilometres."
Mario was eventually re-found on the outskirts of Calais, trying to hitch a lift "It always happens to me," he says in mock dumb rocker style.
We leave them still talking about how young the audience is and how a totally greaser crowd is the most demanding. And Des makes the comment that Paris has true rockers, greasers, call ´em what you will. "They’ve probably never been into anything else and will remain that way."
We head for Champs Elysees, and then Pigalle. It’s night time and Paris is alive, and of course, rocking. "Ah oui, rock and roll.
-Peter Harvey
Record Mirror
9. June 1973