Saturday, 12 June 2010

The Mike Flowers Pops/The London Leisure Centre

I write this with a head like a small hospital. That's what happens when you get a little too enthusiastic about the return of the Mike Flowers Pops. If you remember, Mike Flowers (AKA Mike Roberts) was the figurehead of a weird easy listening revival in the mid-nineties when it became OK to say you liked Burt Bacharach and Jimmy Webb. Flowers lead from the front with a cheesy cover version of Oasis's Wonderwall that almost reached the number 1 spot. In those days I used to catch him and the Pops in places like Madam Jo Jo's in Soho with a bunch of thirty somethings as we danced away to classics like 'Do You Know the Way to San Jose' and 'Up Up and Away' and bloody good fun it was too.

Both got a welcome airing at his return gig last night at the London Leisure Centre, a venue that is, according to its website,'situated in the heart of the historic city of London, UK, within a building that dates back to 1968'. Others know it as the St. Aloysius Social Club, a rather unassuming ballroom and bar in the basement of a Catholic Church in Camden.

Its faded decor lent itself nicely to the evening's retro feel which opened with a set from Rory More at the Lowrey organ. I'm ashamed to say I'd never heard of the Lowrey organ before last night. It's a kind of smoother version of the Hammond that was originally manufactured for the home entertainment market. This might explain why it never took off in the rock world although apparently Paul McCartney used it for the opening of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Betcha didn't know that. Mind you, as Rory More demonstrated last night, when linked to a Leslie cabinet the Lowrey can really pack a punch. His up-tempo version of Francis Lai's theme from Un Homme et Une Femme was very lush and sexy and on the basis of that alone I'd buy one straight away if I had the money and space.

Rory More's turn (we had a short interlude while he fixed the E on his Heritage Deluxe model) was followed by the Mike Flowers Pops who, like Mike Flower's wig, haven't lost any of their lustre. Boy, did us forty somethings love it.

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