Herman and New Hermits Delighted in Beverly Hills: As we said in a recent review of Motown legends the Temptations, which happened to also take place at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, we really need to make sure we see the old rockers while we still can. Jerry Lee Lewis was the last of the first wave giants, and that should be a wake up call. If there’s a ’60s musician that you haven’t seen yet but want to — GO at the earliest opportunity.
That was pretty much our thinking when we decided to see Brit Invasion band Herman’s Hermits at the Saban at the weekend. Like the Temptations, there’s only one original member in the band — frontman Peter Noone. There is another version of the group that tours extensively in Europe, featuring only drummer Barry Whitwam from the original band. So if you’re only going to see one, Noone’s is probably the one to see.
This writer thought that he might be the youngest person in the crowd by a distance but that proved not to be the case, and delightfully so. There turned out to be a handful of (relatively) young Brit Invasion enthusiasts that made the extra effort to be dressed up to the nines. Some were sporting mod attire, others went with the British Dandy look. One chap had a waxed mustache and looked for all the world like a reincarnation of English cad Terry Thomas. Good show!
It’s worth nothing that US ’60s band the Malibooz opened and they warmed the place up nicely. They had a member of Badfinger sitting in on guitar for the night, and a rendition of that band’s “No Matter What” was the highlight of a fun set.
But the night was all about Herman’s Hermits, and specifically Peter Noone. The man is a born entertainer, and he’s still overflowing with youthful energy. There’s no Stones/Kinks/Who grit about this music — rather, they took the sweet, cheeky charm of early Beatles and amped it up. But there’s absolutely a place for that, even today.
There’s also a vaudevillian/music hall quality about both the HHs music and Noone’s performance. He trots onto the stage, mouth agape, and feigns almost falling over a couple of times. His jacket outshines the stage lights and, by the time opening classic “I’m into Something Good” is over, the whole crowd is fully immersed in the gloriously silly spectacle that is this gig.
The setlist balances Herman gems with other songs rom the period. That’s nice, but having actually seen the Monkees perform “Daydream Believer” and the Stones perform “Start Me Up” in the past, we would have preferred more Herman’s Hermits songs here.
No worries — there were plenty. Plus, to be fair, a lot of their hits were covers anyway. “Dandy” is a Kinks original, even if Herman’ Hermits has the US hit. “Mrs Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter,” “Leaning on a Lamp Post” and “I’m Henry VIII” were evidence of the band’s ability to pull a song from a bygone age, from pubs and musicals and music halls, and offer them to a new audience. How many US Herman’s Hermits fans are familiar with the work of George Formby? It’s hard to say.
Another cover, the Clovers’ “Love Potion No.9,” did offer some welcome grit, while “There’s a Kind of Hush” and “The End of the World” were gently beautiful singalongs.
All the while, Noone was the perfect host. He gets laughs by referring to Mick Jagger as his dad and pulling out a comically over-the-top impersonation, and gently mocking the age of the audience as well as his own (groaning while bending down to pick up a setlist).
Herman’s Hermits might not be as cool as the Beatles/Stones/Who/Kinks holy quadrant in 2023, but this version still puts on a great show. And that’s more than enough for us.
Herman and New Hermits Delighted in Beverly Hills: Go to hermanshermits.com for more into on Peter Noone’s band.
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