Now in their 29th year as rock 'n' roll crusaders for all that's way, way cool about early '60s Britannia pop, Merseybeat and Shadows-styled instrumentals, The Rapiers—"the best '60s band since the '60s"—are truly worth flying 5,000 miles to see, hear and dig.
Scrubbed from last night's bill at Warners Bembridge Hotel on the Isle of Wight to focus on his treatment for cancer, Jet Harris nevertheless made a mighty, impromptu appearance, reports Nathan J. Hulse.
"Even though he wasn't getting paid, he still made the effort to turn up and watch us. He performed Theme for Something Really Important and his No. 1, Diamonds. Just two songs, but the crowd gave him a standing ovation. I think they saw the great effort Jet put in to be there. He clearly wasn't feeling in tip-top condition, but that didn't stop him putting in a sterling performance.
"Well done, Jet. He expects to be back on form and the road next year. We look forward to it."
From eyewitness Audrey Knapp, commenting on the ShadowMusic forum: "... the audience were thrilled when Colin Pryce-Jones announced that Jet hadn't wanted to let them down, despite being unwell... Jet got up on stage to cheers from the audience... It was a very emotional moment for everyone. Jet's partner, Janet, and I both had tears in our eyes to see Jet back where he belongs. Even though Jet is feeling very weak and still has more chemotherapy to undergo, he played brilliantly and everyone in the audience leapt to their feet to give Jet a much deserved standing ovation. When Jet came back to sit down at our table he, too, was almost in tears. A very special night! What a trooper!"
NB: Details on the show's audio set-up and peculiar issues at Nathan's The Rapiers Soundblog... Frustratingly fascinating, year-old Daily Mail article on reunited Shadows not inviting Jet to 2009-2010 tour with Sir Cliff Richard.
The joys of Twittering and Facebooking: 3 hours ago Nathan H. Hulse reported the lads en route to Portsmouth to catch a ferry over the Solent to the Isle of Wight for a show at Warners Bembridge Hotel supporting singer Kytsun Wolfe, subbing for Jet Harris, sidelined the past few months while undergoing cancer treatment. Get well, Jet!
Courtesy YouTuber-in-the-seats 19betty50, let's preview The Rapiers' current touring show Made in Britain at its October visit to the Wyllyotts Theatre, Potters Bar.
Quadruple duty is the order of the night for our lads, who knock out their own set, then back '60s pop singer Craig Douglas (who famously rode the UK Hit Parade covering American pop numbers like Only Sixteen, A Hundred Pounds of Clay, Pretty Blue Eyes), Steve Halliday as Cliff Richard and Michael King as Billy Fury.
Highlight of the clips quartet below? Surely Colin Pryce-Jones soloing hard on Nothin' Shakin', admitedly one of his all-time fave-rave British rockers.
If phrases like "output to house system via XLRs", "amplifying the whole back-line through the PA", "timing the guitar echo" and "jack connections" pump up your pulse rate, dive into Nathan J. Hulse's enlightening new blog The Rapiers Sound, nirvana for certified gearheads, boffins and lay persons curious how The Rapiers make their beautiful noise, improvise when gremlins get into the machinery, and swap out hardware based on venue acoustics, set list and other criteria.
In the past The Rapiers have done shows with one particular sound engineer who would switch microphones off. Quite a few will do this to stop instruments spilling into vocal mics and eliminate feedback due to too many mics being live. Most decent sound guys keep an eye on the performance and switch them on if they are required, sometimes missing the first word or so. This particular sound guy didn't just miss the first word or so, he'd miss the whole song. What is really worrying is the audience will think it's the band fault.
Backtracking to late summer finds fine Liverpudlian and Shakers sticksman Tony O'Keeffe with Nathan J. Hulse, John Tuck, Colin Pryce-Jones and Neil Ainsby at Marine Hall in the seaside resort of Fleetwood, Lancashire (10 miles north of Blackpool) on 14 August, where The Rapiers delivered their Made in Britain stageshow starring '60s singer Craig Douglas, Michael King as Billy Fury and Steven Halliday as Cliff Richard.
FLASH! In September, whilst I day tripped to Madrid and London's O2, Rapier Neil Ainsby hinted at a super secret collaboration between The Rapiers and (defunct garage kings) The Kaisers.
Now word of this Uber Beat Bonanza is leaking out: The deliciously monikered Ravemen (scheduled to feature our Neil, ex-Rapiers bassist Brad Dallaston, Kaiser Johnny and Kaiser Matt) play a one-off show for charity at the Boston Music Room (aka Boston Arms aka Dirty Water Club), 178 Junction Road near the Tufnell Tube, on 18 December. Why even boss producer Liam "Toe Rag" Watson will be spinning wax for the punters.
Before I could tip the wider world, founding Rapier Dave Lawes put up for eBay auction his "Silver Face" Fender Twin Reverb amp, the same hardware that featured on early Rapiers EPs, the LPs Straight to the Point, 1961 and Return of The Rapiers, live gigs and four years backing Freddie Garrity.
Winning bid was £370.
Says Fender-less Dave: "I need the space now, and we have switched to Vox anyway."
From his original eBay post, we learnt:
"I bought this amplifier in 1984 and it has been used exclusively by me with the premier early sixties band The Rapiers until recently when we switched to Vox. I fitted Celestion G12 H speakers in 1988 and they have been extremely reliable ever since. The amp was overhauled by Fender about six years ago, and has had a recent health check from legendary "Shadows enthusiast" Geoff Strachan. I replaced all valves about four years ago. The reverb needs replacing, and I don't have the original footswitch any longer. Additionally the vib trem is not working at the moment. The amp itself is in reasonable condition for the age, considering the amount of use it has had. It has been and is incredibly reliable, it is very loud, clear and has a lovely, rich, well-balanced tone."