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Lipstick On Your Collar - Gonna Tell On You
Andrew Liddle, Features Writer
When the five-piece Rock’n’Roll band burst into life with a cracking version of The Surfaris’ Wipe Out, the half-hour’s delayed start (for unspecified technical problems) was instantly forgiven and forgotten. Here was an obviously talented group of musicians. It was going to a great night, or so it seemed.

Undeniably, the band was the bright aspect of the show with a wonderful ability to reproduce the authentic backing sound for a dizzying array of hits from the 1950s and 60s. It would be nice to name-check them but there was no programme or press release and a search on line failed to identify them.

Sadly, and it really pains this critic to have to say it, the lead singer, Nicola Seeking-Smith, could not cut it on a variety of levels. Her voice lacked power and was shrill. She had – and who can blame someone of her age – many of the vocal mannerisms, the subtle inflections, the voice-wobble of more recent times. In some of the up-tempo numbers this was not perhaps too obvious but stood out a mile in the slower tempo Fever, Peggy Lee’s enormous hit of 1959 (covered, incidentally, by Beyoncé in 2010).

Presumably she had grown up listening more to Beyoncé and her coterie than to Brenda Lee and hers. Yes, she bounced around exuberantly, striving desperately to be the Little Miss Dynamite, working enormously hard to whip up enthusiasm in the elderly audience whom she repeatedly addressed as ‘guys’. But her antics quickly grew tiresome – and her attempt at humour (was it?) in getting down with difficulty and, er, lack of dignity onto the floor, front of stage, and the beached whale impression getting up was, frankly, embarrassing. A man near me muttered something not very nice.

I wonder if someone might tactfully suggest she keeps her skirts down rather more than up: she’s supposed to be Connie Francis (and other lovely lasses from a more demure period) not a compulsive can-can dancer determined to show everything. A little frou-frou never goes amiss but not all the time and with such high zest for the full two hours!

The talk at half-time was of disappointment and misunderstanding. It seemed many people had turned out for what they assumed would be one of those nostalgic musicals, with a story that provides a vehicle for the hits of the period. Many of them had in mind the 1993 British television serial of the same name written by Dennis Potter.They were surprised (and not entirely best pleased) to learn Lipstick On Your Collar was, in fact, the collective name of the band and singer - and that was all there was.

They were promoted as coming direct from London's West End. It seems on examination that the show appeared one night only at Leicester Square in May last year. The same publicity states that the band is assembled from of some of the country’s top musicians, and few would choose to doubt this but without their names it is impossible to add authentication. Suffice it to say, they did their jobs as musicians very well but lacked the presence of natural performers and left Miss Seeking-Smith working overtime to do all the active engagement.

Also by Andrew Liddle...
A World Première In Scarborough
A View From The Bridge In York
Sleeping Beauty Awakes In 100 Days
Malory Towers
Ayckbourn’s Birthdays
Consequently, this much hyped touring show was really just a very fast-paced romp through some big hits from two decades, an attempt to pack in as many as possible, even if it meant that karaoke-style one song might fade prematurely into the next item. There was not much variety, the greatest perhaps being when Miss Smith changed from red polka dot dress to blue polka dot dress.

Still, it has to be said, there was warm applause for each hit from Connie Francis, Brenda Lee, Buddy Holly, Elvis, Mickey and Sylvia, Jerry Lee Lewis, Dion, The Big Bopper, The Everly Brothers, Neil Sedaka, our own Cliff, Shirley Bassey and Cilla and, in the second half, some mid-Sixties’ beat stuff not least a tribute to The Beatles.

By the end of the evening most of the stars of the period had been covered by the band for hire from Reading that is currently touring the country.

Lipstick On Your Collar appeared at Bridlington Spa on Friday, 5 July 2019

Lipstick On Your Collar - Gonna Tell On You, 6th July 2019, 17:53 PM