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PP Arnold & the Small Fakers, Balcony Bar, Ryde, 30 August 2015

Ryde was full of scooters and Mods all weekend and a great gig was about to happen at The Balcony Bar overlooking The Solent. The venue was packed and the beer (or at least low quality lager) was flowing.

The first band on was The Orders, a young three-piece who played a great set that mixed some fine original songs with some covers. Eddie Holland's Leaving Here owed more to The Birds' version that The Who's. Other covers included The Beatles' Taxman, the Who's Substitute, The Kingsmen's Louie Louie and The Monkees' Steppin' Stone which merged into The Adverts' Gary Gilmore's Eyes. Well worth seeing this three-piece band again.

After a few minutes break the wonderful Small Fakers arrived. Now with legend Dean Rees on Hammond organ the Fab Four ripped through a set of Small Faces singles singles and album tracks. The repertoire was cut-down slightly (see later) but almost all singles were represented. The band have the act well perfected to create an authentic Small Faces sound and look. Indeed if they were any more authentic Dan Taylor would be riding a polo pony! The Small Fakers have gigs all over the country and are a great night out.

Another short break before the Small Fakers came back on stage. This time they acted as the backing group for the second time for the First Lady of Immediate PP Arnold. This was the second time that the Small Fakers had backed PP Arnold and it worked extremely well. Despite flying on early that morning the leading lady was on great form and delivered an excellent 16-song set which included her best-known songs and some great cover versions.

It was obvious from the very first song Everything's Gonna Be Alright that her voice is still in top condition. PP Arnold is without doubt a superb soul singer and she took control of the evening. All he hits were there including Angel of the Morning, First Cut is the Deepest and a huge cheer went up for the Marriott/Lane composition If You Think You're Groovy where the Small Fakers were the ideal backing. After superb performances of Groovy by Deborah Bonham and Sam Brown at Wapping Wharf events it was good to hear Pat reclaim her song. The highlight of the evening was her rendition of the Ike & Tina Turner classic River Deep, Mountain High. PP Arnold had been one of the Ikettes and was on the original Phil Spector sessions for this great track (unlike Ike Turner). This was a powerful performance of the song and a brave choice but it clearly worked.

When The Ike & Tina Turner Review toured the UK as support act to The Rolling Stones, PP Arnold was encouraged by Mick Jagger to stay in England and develop a solo career. Former Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham signed her as a solo act to his new Immediate record label where she released two albums and had a number of hit singles. Her friendship and links with the Small Faces are well-known. She sang backing vocals on Tin Soldier and, on this evening, she repeated that with the Small Fakers, taking the third verse herself. She also teamed up with Primal Scream in the 1990s to contribute a track to Long Agos and Worlds Apart, a tribute album to the Small Faces. She reprised this and it was excellent. The final track, rather than the obvious Tin Soldier, was Afterglow. Steve Marriott wrote this beautiful love song for PP Arnold and played it to her. She loved it and her reaction was so strong that Marriott decided to keep it for the Small Faces. PP Arnold's version of the great song is simply stunning.

This was a wonderful evening with PP Arnold staying onto sign autographs and chat with fans despite being clearly tired after a very long day. Check out a compilation f her Immediate work called First Cut. This is a great album with wonderful songs.


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