Friday, November 14, 2008

Three Steps to Heaven

Just a few weeks before he died in a car crash (April 17, 1960), American rock'n'roll idol, Eddie Cochran, performed in Cardiff along with fellow legend Gene Vincent. Here is a great review of their show from a now defunct South Wales newspaper.

Teenagers - Your Theatre Manners are Shocking

After going along to Cardiff's Gaumont Theatre last Friday night to see the Gene Vincent/Eddie Cochran show, I came away feeling disgusted at the way in which teenagers welcomed certain acts on the programme. Despite the fact that newcomer Tony Sheridan gave one of the best performances of the night singing When You Walk Through a Storm, impatient teenagers waiting for Gene Vincent, could think of nothing better to do than throw lighted cigarette ends at him during his act. The least they could have done was to give him a chance to prove his worth. After all they weren't bound to remain in their seats whilst Tony was appearing, as there is always plenty of room in the foyer of the theatre.

I'm pleased to say that those teenagers were in the minority, as this fast-moving "Beat Show" descended on Cardiff with a frenzied swoop, evoking screams galore from the majority of the 2,000 strong audience. The pity was that both these artists could scarcely be heard against the instrumental backing and the audience shouting.

Both Gene and Eddie were making their first visit to Wales and welcomed the opportunity of personally meeting some of their Welsh fans. Between shows they recorded special messages for transmission on the Hospitals Request Hour show. Interviewer was Vic Dawe, who has had the pleasant task of interviewing leading names in the world of entertainment visiting Cardiff over the past six months. Through Hallelujah! Eddie in tartan shirt and leather jeans built up to an earlier hit C'Mon Everybody and soon had the customers in the beat mood.

Twenty-one-year-old Gene Vincent on the other hand, is a more flamboyant showman, almost cuddling his microphone, kneeling and crawling on the stage and generally leaping about like some leather-clad spaceman from another planet. This rock'n'roller built up to a frantic finale before all the artists joined on stage for a frenzied rock session. It was a pity however, that Gene didn't have The Bluecaps (his original group from the States) to back him. The Wildcats didn't appear to be strong enough. Making a return visit to Cardiff with the show was handsome six-foot-plus Vince Eager, star of television's Oh Boy and Six-Five Special shows.

Also paying another visit to Cardiff were The Viscounts, a vigorous all-male singing act laced with good comedy. The threesome are surely heading for bill-topping status soon. One of the group Gordon Mills - hails from Cardiff.

Remembering that Eddie Cochran has appeared in several films, I took the opportunity of asking him whether he preferred films, television or stage shows, in the seclusion of his dressing room after the show. He replied: "Give me stage shows every time. TV and films are fine, but I much prefer to work live. It's so much more exciting and I feel I can get closer to people. When an audience is enthusiastic I get something from them, and in return give a better performance. Audiences can be very stimulating."

On Saturday, both Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran appeared on ITV's Boys Meet Girls.