Concert: Mike Sweeney's Manchester Beat

Where: The Plaza Theatre, Stockport, England
When: October 14, 2016

Fab night of Manchester nostalgia

The Manchester Beat concert put together by Mike Sweeney and friends at Stockport's Plaza on Friday 14th. October 2016 featured original members from big 60's groups such as The Hollies, Freddie & The Dreamers, The Swinging Blue Jeans and Pete Maclaine And The Clan and was a brilliant sell-out show. The old Plaza Theatre Art Deco building from the early 1930's, recently fully restored, really shines like a diamond — a perfect venue for a trip down memory lane with music from the 60's and 70's.

The show was compered by comedian Dave Buck (a.k.a. Dave Buckle) — drummer with Grisby Dyke in the late 60s, and Buck was behind the drums when Stockport's legendary Pete Maclaine And The Clan set the tone for the night with a set of classic rock 'n' roll numbers including Bruce Channel's «Hey Baby» and Chuck Berry's «Nadine». Dave Barrow (ex-Measles, ex-Alvin Stardust band) is a phenomenal bassist and returned to playing with Pete Maclaine's Clan after two years with Herman's Hermits in 1980-82.

The duo of Brian and Michael, who had a No. 1 hit in the UK in 1978 with «Matchstalk Men And Matchstalk Cats And Dogs» also delivered a fine set backed by The Matchstalk Men, and their song about the Salford artist Lowry got the audience clapping and singing along before the interval.

The second half of the show opened with the always energetic Mike Sweeney backed by The Salford Jets and The Sweenagerettes, sounding incredibly like «The Fab Four» on «Please Please Me». His tribute to Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders with «Game Of Love» and «A Groovy Kind Of Love» were also excellent — which is no surprise really, as Mike Sweeney's Thunderbyrds were in fact Wayne Fontana's backing band in the 80's/90's.

The flyer promoting the Plaza show featured Karl Green (ex-Herman's Hermits), but due to prior commitments Green had to pull out a few weeks before the show. However, Herman's Hermits fans still got a great medley of hits including «I'm Into Something Good» performed by Mike Sweeney.

This was followed by special guest from Liverpool, Ray Ennis of The Swinging Blue Jeans, now semi retired - but backed by The Salford Jets he proved that he's certainly not too old to rock 'n' roll.


Derek Quinn (ex-Freddie & The Dreamers) with record producer Steve Foley after the concert in Stockport.

The same goes for Derek Quinn, guitarist with Freddie & The Dreamers in the 60s, who had been practising for 12 months for the Plaza gig. It was a welcome and fun packed comeback for Quinn with Sweeney taking lead vocals on  «If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody», «You Were Made For Me» and «Short Shorts» — bouncing around the stage just like Freddie Garrity with arms and legs flying. Sadly bassist Pete Birrell couldn't make it for this Dreamers reunion.


Eric Haydock (ex-Hollies) and Pete Maclaine relaxing in the bar after the show.

The segment ending the show was a tribute to The Hollies with original bassist Eric Haydock (and his dog Jack!) joining Gidea Park and Mike Sweeney on stage for excellent renditions of «I Can't Let Go», «Just One Look», «Bus Stop» and «He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother».

To round off the show all the artists entered the stage again for a finale doing «With A Little Help From My Friends» and «What'd I Say».


Pauline Renshaw, Eileen and Phil Keen (ex-Mindbenders, Young & Renshaw, Rhino) after the show.

Organisers Mike Sweeney, Derek Quinn and Pauline Renshaw were all very happy the event turned out so well, and a «Manchester Beat II» concert with the same artists plus Dave Berry & The Cruisers is now scheduled for The Plaza on Friday October 13, 2017.   

Olaf Owre




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