EKU Center for the Arts patrons scored a trifecta Sunday night as three top acts from the 1960s delighted an audience of mostly aging baby boomers, bringing back memories of their teenage years.
I call the event a trifecta because even one of the acts, Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone, Gary Puckett and The Union Gap, and The Buckinghams, would have been worth the price of admission.
Although most showed signs of age with gray and thinning hair, their voices sounded remarkably unchanged after nearly a half century. However, they proved that guitar skills only improve with age.
The first two acts were great, but they were still blown away by the power and talent of Herman’s Hermits: Starting Peter Noone. Noone is the real Herman.
The crowd knew the Hermits were telling the truth as they sang “Something Tells Me I’m Into Something Good.” I suspect it also reminded everyone of their first high school sweetheart.
At age 69, Noone seemed to have the energy of a 19-year-old as he danced, jumped and cavorted around the stage. His voice is strong and clear. His face is still boyish. And his hair appears thick and golden. I suspect only his hair dresser knows for sure whether that hair is authentic.
Noone could have a successful career as a standup comic. He kept the crowd in stitches peppering the intervals between songs with often self-deprecating jokes.
The baby boomers also got to recall the vicissitudes of teenage romance when the Buchinghams started the evening with “Don’t You Care” and then followed with “My Baby, She’s Made Out of Love.”
Lead vocalist Carl Giammarese told the crowd, “It’s great to be here. But at our age, it’s great to be anywhere.”
When the group went to California for an appearance on The Smothers Brothers variety show, they found the stage decked out with Union Jack flags. Although they were from Chicago, because of their name, the TV producers thought The Buckinghams were part of the British Invasion.
Gary Puckett apologized for a chest cold that he said had dogged him for days. While his voice faultered a few times, he was at full force and range when reprising several of his love anthems of the late ’60s. That’s outstanding for a man 75 years old.
The announcer claimed Gary Pucket and The Union Gap was the top selling act of 1968, despite wikipedia’s assertion that it never had a No. 1 hit in the U.S.
I graduated from high school in 1968, the year remains the most turbulent since World War II. It started with the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, Mao’s Red Guards rampaging in China, the student revolt in France, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. In spite of all that, some teenagers never lost sight of romance.
The audience of more than 1,300 fans demonstrated how the EKU Center draws people from near and far.
Seated on the row next to me and my wife Elizabeth were three women who had been friends at least since their teen years. They grew up listening to the music of Sunday night’s performers, said Karen Cronen of Shelbyville, whose daughter is a recent EKU graduate. Cronen was joined by a friend who now lives in Harrodsburg and another who had driven from their hometown of Calvert City in far western Kentucky.
County Attorney Marc and Lisa Robbins, next to Mayor Jim and Jan Barnes, sat in the row behind us. Former Magistrate Billy Ray and Janean Hughes were in the row in front of us.
Susan and Terry Taylor of Louisville sat farther down the row from me. Susan wore a lightweight black leather jacket and carried a white purse purchased from the Peter Noone fan club. Both items were emblazoned with the Union Jack.
A Hermits fan since her teen years, Susan said she first got to see them perform live in 2003. Since then, she has attended more than 100 of their concerts, often following them on the road. On Saturday night, she and her husband said they had attended their concert in Merrillville, Ind., the night before.
Noone, who is very appreciative of his fans, knows her and her husband by name, Susan said.
Reach Bill Robinson at 624-6608