By Jeremy Miles
Larger than life American singer PJ Proby sealed his reputation as a star way back in the sixties when he split his trousers on stage half way through a UK tour.
Moral campaigners tried to have him deported. The ensuing publicity hiked his profile to dizzying heights.
Sadly at the Regent Centre on Sunday it appeared that more than 40 years on his entire career is coming apart at the seams.
Now 70-years-old and - after 17 sober years - still recovering from the decades of alcoholism that nearly killed him, Proby puffed and panted his way around the stage.
Overweight and sweating profusely, he struggled through his big hits as he desperately tried to recapture the once glorious vocal prowess that sent songs like Maria and Somewhere soaring up the charts.
As he delivered his trademark mix of big ballads and pop-screamers like Hold Me there was an occasional glimpse of what used to be, but most of the time he was all over the place. Not that the devoted seemed deterred. As Proby gurned, hollered and harumphed his way through little more than 30 minutes of songs, ladies of a certain age crowded the front of the stage desperate to touch his hand.
The backing band were sixties chart contenders Vanity Fare, best remembered for irritating pop ditties like I Live For the Sun and Hitchin’ A Ride.
It fell to them together with Brian Poole - once front man for The Tremeloes - to provide the rest of this two hour show. Most of the audience seemed to love it. I’m afraid I thought it was rubbish.
I received a furious email about this saying that I should be ashamed, that this was a personal attack, that I obviously know nothing about music and showbusiness, that I should join the ranks of “other know nothing brain dead no ones like Mary Whitehouse and her pet dog Lord Longford who ruined Proby’s reputation in the 60s”. Oh yes, and I would have been better occupied spending my evening at a wrestling match.
This came from a Brian Dolan in Amsterdam who is clearly passionate about the music of Mr Proby. Good on you for standing up for what you believe in Brian.
But, just for the record, my review was NOT a personal attack. I think Jim, as PJ is known to his friends, is a great character. I’ve interviewed him at length in the past and he’s a class raconteur. His music has never been particularly to my taste but he used to be a truly dynamic performer. I expected (indeed hoped for) a compelling stage show at Christchurch. I didn’t get it. It was a terrible show.
Quite why expressing this opinion puts me in the same category as that small-minded, prudish bigot and control freak Mary Whitehouse and the well-meaning but utterly deluded Frank Longford I cannot imagine. After all I’m not asking anyone to agree with me.
As for knowing nothing about music and showbusiness? Take a look around this site and, if you’re still upset, just remember my review will be forgotten in a few days.