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Leamington Assembly, 9 September 2011

Steve Cropper, photo by Andrew Lock

It was a nice touch that rather than the usual CD played over the sound system before the artists take the stage, for this show a DJ took control of the music playing a selection of 1960's classics which really set the mood for the evening.

The Animals, photo by Andrew Lock

The Animals and Friends began life in the year 2000 and the line up features original Animals drummer John Steel and keyboard maestro Mick Gallagher who replaced Alan Price for a while when he left The Animals in 1965 (also known for his work as a Blockhead with Ian Dury and for his album work with The Clash), the band is completed by Pete Barton lead vocals/bass (ex Mindbender) and John Williamson guitar/vocals (ex Titanic).

The Animals, photo by Andrew Lock

There was also a very special extra friend on this tour, legendary guitarist, song writer and member of the 60's band Booker T & the M.G.'s, Steve "The Colonel" Cropper, who also co- wrote several absolute classic songs including the timeless '(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay' recorded by the late great Otis Redding.

Steve would make his appearance in the second set leaving The Animals & Friends to rock the audience for the first half of the show which started with the Animals debut single 'Baby Let Me Take You Home' a real foot tapper, the first set also included 'Bright Lights Big City' which featured outstanding keyboard work by Mick Gallagher and a powerful performance of the classic hit single 'Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood'.

Steve Cropper, photo by Andrew Lock

Steve Cropper was introduced on stage right at the start of the second set, to a fantastic reception,  and this master showman had the audience rushing to the front of the stage for the second set opener, the Booker T. and Blues Brothers classic instrumental 'Time Is Tight'.

This fabulous collection of musicians then produced what can only be described as a great American song book of Mr Croppers compositions which included '634-5789' recorded by Wilson Pickett, (this included a very funny anecdote on the amount of money this track cost the record company because of issues with the phone number of the title being constantly dialled), and of course we had a show stopping '(Sittin' On) The Dock Of the Bay'.

Steve Cropper, photo by Andrew Lock

Steve Cropper's guitar playing was a joy to behold and the crowd were also treated to countless stories from the music legend's fantastic career including tales about the late great Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett. With the addition of all the classic Animals tracks performed by the Animals & Friends the evening was a real rock and roll time machine with the dials set to the 60's.

Finishing a superb evening in style surely everybody's favourite work anthem(!) 'We Gotta Get Out Of This Place', the classic of classics 'House Of The Rising Sun' and with Mr Steve Cropper back on stage and plenty of dancing in the audience a rocking/funky 'Green Onions'.

A quality evening of top entertainment, loved every minute of it.

Review and photos by Andrew Lock

Birkenhead, 22 September

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