1990 October to December

1st October – KRAFTWERK

Live – for one day – KRAFTWERK – is a German band formed in Düsseldorf in 1970 by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider. Widely considered as innovators and pioneers of electronic music, they were among the first successful acts to popularize the genre. The group began as part of West Germany’s experimental krautrock scene in the early 1970s before fully embracing electronic instrumentation, including synthesizers, drum machines, and vocoders.

On commercially successful albums such as Autobahn (1974), Trans-Europe Express (1977), The Man-Machine (1978), and Computer World (1981), Kraftwerk developed a self-described “robot pop” style that combined electronic music with pop melodies, sparse arrangements, and repetitive rhythms, while adopting a stylized image including matching suits. Following the release of Electric Café (1986), Wolfgang Flür left the group in 1987, followed by percussionist Karl Bartos in 1990.

After years of withdrawal from live performance Kraftwerk in 1990, played a few secret shows in Italy and a number of selected dates across Europe of which this was one, ahead of the next major tour in 1991, for the album The Mix.

A rare 1990 performance

3rd October – THE RED ARMY ENSEMBLE

On the stage – for three days – The Red Army Ensemble – The Alexandrov Ensemble widely known as the Red Army Ensemble is an official army choir of the Russian armed forces. Founded during the Soviet era, the ensemble consists of a male choir, an orchestra, and a dance ensemble. The Ensemble has entertained audiences both in Russia and throughout the world, performing a range of music including folk tunes, hymns, operatic arias and popular music. The group’s repertoire has included The Volga Boatmen’s Song, Katyusha, Kalinka, and Ave Maria.

It is named for its first director, Alexander Vasilyevich Alexandrov (1883–1946). Following the death of Alexander Alexandrov, the ensemble was taken over by his son, Boris Alexandrovich Alexandrov. Under his leadership, the ensemble gained fame outside the Soviet Union, making extensive tours worldwide. Boris Alexandrov retired in 1987, and was succeeded by People’s Artist of Russia Igor Agafonnikov the same year, with Anatoly Maltsev as the ensemble chief.

A performance by the Ensemble

7th October – RICHARD CLAYDERMAN

Live – for one day – Richard Clayderman – a 36 year old French pianist who has released numerous albums including the compositions of Paul de Senneville and Olivier Toussaint, instrumental renditions of popular music, rearrangements of movie soundtracks, ethnic music, and easy-listening arrangements of popular works of classical music. His first single, Ballade pour Adeline, took off in 1977 selling 22 million copies in 38 countries. By the time of this concert he had released 37 albums and was one of the most popular middle-of-the-road artists in the World.

Richard Clayderman live in concert in 1990

9th October – WELSH NATIONAL OPERA

On the stage – for five days – WELSH NATIONAL OPERA – The popular Company made their third visit of the year to the Mayflower. Their week started on the Tuesday with a new production of Bizet‘s Carmen and that was repeated on Friday night. On Wednesday and for two performances on Saturday Mozart‘s The Marriage Of Figaro was performed in English. The final opera would be a performance on Thursday of Janaceck‘s From The House Of The Dead, a revival of the stunning production that celebrates peoples‘abilities to rise above the most difficult circumstances.

A promotional trailer for The House Of The Dead

17th October – CHESS

On the stage – for THREE weeks – CHESS – is a musical with music by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus of the pop group ABBA, lyrics by Ulvaeus and Tim Rice, and a book by Rice. The story involves a politically driven, Cold War–era chess tournament between two grandmasters, one American and the other Soviet Russian, and their fight over a woman who manages one and falls in love with the other. Although the protagonists were not intended to represent any real individuals, the character of the American grandmaster (named Freddie Trumper in the stage version) was loosely based on Bobby Fischer, while elements of the story may have been inspired by the chess careers of Russian grandmasters Viktor Korchnoi and Anatoly Karpov.

Chess allegorically reflected the Cold War tensions present in the 1980s. The musical has been referred to as a metaphor for the whole Cold War, with the insinuation being made that the Cold War is itself a manipulative game. Released and staged at the height of the strong anti-communist agenda that came to be known as the “Reagan Doctrine”, Chess addressed and satirised the hostility of the international political atmosphere of the 1980s.

As with other productions such as Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita, a highly successful concept album was released prior to the first theatrical production in order to raise money. In the case of Chess, the concept album was released in the autumn of 1984 while the show opened in London’s West End in 1986 where it played for three years. A much-altered US version premiered on Broadway in 1988 with a book by Richard Nelson, but survived only for two months.

This was the first UK national tour of the original West End production, it used the same sets and costumes, but without the large lifting, tilting, rotating stage floor. This was replaced with a much smaller chess board, set into a revolve. It could rise to quite a high tilt, but was only used in this position very briefly at the beginning of The Deal and then on a much smaller tilt for Endgame. A video-wall was included, but only on-stage, flown in as in London, but much smaller than the original 64 screen version and only used for match scores. The production was directed and choreographed by Anthony Van Last and although he cut the dancing from The Arbiter, he introduced a ballet sequence to the act one chess games and Embassy Lament had four embassy officials rather than London’s two, who each participated in a few choreographed movements during the first half of the song, then proceeded to drink tea during the second.

The cast included Rebecca Storm, Richard Barnes, Maurice Clarke, Linda-Mae Brewer, Paul Haley, Malcolm Rivers and Brett Forest.

Listen to Rebecaa Storm performing her hit number from the show

4th November – ELKIE BROOKS

Live – for one day – ELKIE BROOKS – This was Elkie Brook‘s ninth appearance at the theatre and her first as the Mayflower. Since her last appearance in 1985 she sang the title song for the 1996 BBC television series “A Very Peculiar Practice”. The song, written by Dave Greenslade, was never released as a commercial recording. In early 1987, the song “No More the Fool” reached the top five and became her biggest hit single to date with the parent album also reaching the top five. This led to her achieving another career peak, as she had two albums in the Top Ten and a single in the Top Ten all on the same week. Following chart success ensued with the albums The Very Best of Elkie Brooks, Bookbinder’s Kid and Inspiration.

We’ve Got Tonight

5th November – THE BLUES BAND

Live – for one day – THE BLUES BAND – a British blues band formed in 1979 by Paul Jones, former lead vocalist and harmonica player with Manfred Mann, and guitarist Tom McGuinness also of Manfred Mann and The Roosters. The band’s first line-up also included bassist Gary Fletcher, slide-guitarist Dave Kelly who had previously played with The John Dummer Band, Howling Wolf and John Lee Hooker and drummer Hughie Flint, of John Mayall’s Blues Breakers and McGuinness Flint, the band he formed with Tom McGuinness. In 1982 Flint left and was replaced by former Family drummer Rob Townsend. They briefly disbanded after recording a live album Bye Bye Blues (1983), but reformed soon afterwards. This 1990 tour was to promote their latest album “Back For More“.

A number from one of the gigs on the tour

6th November – JIM DAVIDSON

Live – for two days – JIM DAVIDSON – This Southampton concert came straight off the back of Davidson’s one man show for Thames Television, Stand Up Jim Davidson which had been recorded at London’s Royalty (Peacock) Theatre. As always Davidson attracted controversy for his frequent jokes about women, ethnic minorities, homosexuals and disabled people, but he maintained that he is not prejudiced against these groups. Jim was ably supported in this show by fellow comedian Richard Digance and the cockney musical duo Chas ‘n’ Dave.

Richard Digance with an excerpt from the show

9th November – HAWKWIND

Live – for one day – HAWKWIND – This concert was the 10th by Hawkwind at the theatre, 8 as the Gaumont and one two years previously at the Mayflower. Since the band;s last visit in 1988 they had recorded the albumThe Xenon Codex with Guy Bidmead, but all was not well in the band and soon after, both Lloyd-Langton and Thompson departed. Drummer Richard Chadwick, who joined in the summer of 1988, had been playing in small alternative free festival bands, most notably Bath’s Smart Pils, for a decade and had frequently crossed paths with Hawkwind and Brock. He was initially invited simply to play with the band, but eventually replaced stand in drummer Mick Kirton to become the band’s drummer to the present day. To fill in the gap of lead sound, lost when Lloyd-Langton left, violinist House was re-instated into the line-up in 1989 (having previously been a member from 1974 until 1978), and, notably, Hawkwind embarked on their first North American visit in eleven years (since the somewhat disastrous 1978 tour), in which House did not partake.

The successfully received tour was the first of several over the coming years, in an effort by the band to re-introduce themselves to the American market. Bridget Wishart, an associate of Chadwick’s from the festival circuit, also joined to become the band’s one and only singing front-woman, the band had been fronted in earlier days by Stacia but only as a dancer. This band produced the1990 album Space Bandits and to promote it toured North America again, before embarking on this UK national tour.

A Hawkwind number

10th November – VAN MORRISON

Live – for one day – VAN MORRISON – The 1989 album, Avalon Sunset, which featured the hit duet with Cliff Richard “Whenever God Shines His Light” and the ballad “Have I Told You Lately” (on which “earthly love transmutes into that for God”(Hinton)), reached 13 on the UK album chart. Although considered to be a deeply spiritual album, it also contained “Daring Night”, which “deals with full, blazing sex, whatever its churchy organ and gentle lilt suggest”(Hinton). Morrison’s familiar themes of “God, woman, his childhood in Belfast and those enchanted moments when time stands still” were prominent in the songs. He often completed albums in two days, frequently releasing first takes.

This 1990 gig was part of the UK leg of a major international tour for Van Morrison in 1990 and he invited two fellow performers, Georgie Fame and Andy Fairweather Low, to perform alongside him. The tour was, in part, to promote “The Best of Van Morrison“ a compilation album that compiles songs spanning 25 years of his recording career. The album was a critical and commercial success, becoming one of the best-selling records of the 1990s and helping revive Morrison’s mainstream popularity.

A November 1990 rehearsal session

12th November – ENGLISH NATIONAL BALLET

On the stage – for six days – ENGLISH NATIONAL BALLETTHE NUTCRACKER – In September 1990, Ivan Nagy briefly succeeded Peter Schaufuss as Artistic Director and was followed, in March 1993, by Derek Deane. Under Schaufuss and Nagy, the Company had embraced a range of dance styles but not at the exclusion of traditional classic styles. This was the 40th anniversary of English National Ballet and the 40th year that the Company had peformed The Nutcracker.

A version of the Sugar Plum Fairy by ENB

20th November – GLYNDEBOURNE TOURING OPERA

On the stage – for five days – GLYNDEBOURNE TOURING OPERA – The annual visit of Glyndebourne brought a diverse programme which opened on the Tuesday with Mozart‘s 1791 opera The Magic Flute (it also played Thursday evening). On Wednesday and Saturday Beethoven‘s Fidelio took to the stage and on Friday a newly commissioned opera by Glyndebourne and Houston Grand Opera, New Year, was performed. Composed and written by British composer Michael Tippett. The story of the opera moves between two worlds, of “Somewhere and Today” and “Nowhere and Tomorrow”.

A scene from a later production of The Magic Flute

26th November – CHARLEY PRIDE

Live – for one day – CHARLEY PRIDE – is a 56 year old American singer, musician, guitarist, business owner, and former professional baseball player. His greatest musical success came in the early to mid-1970s, when he became the best-selling performer for RCA Records since Elvis Presley. During the peak years of his recording career (1966–87), he garnered 52 top-10 hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, 30 of which made it to number one.

This was his thrid visit to the theatre, the first was to the Gaumont in 1978.

Performing one of his hits on a Dutch leg of tour

27th November – DAVID ESSEX

Live – for one day – DAVID ESSEX – was 43 when he made this, his 13th concert appearance at this theatre. His 1990 tour was in part to promote his album ‘Touching The Ghost‘ and his recent single ‘A Shoulder To Cry On‘.

Two numbers from David Essex

30th November – THE SHADOWS

Live – for one day- THE SHADOWS – In June 1989 the Shadows once more reunited with Cliff to celebrate 30 years in show business where the singer filled London’s Wembley Stadiumfor two nights with a spectacular titled “The Event” in front of a combined audience of 144,000 people. As a special surprise for the fans Cliff invited onto the stage original and founding members of the group Jet Harris and Tony Meehan to perform “Move It” with him and his band.

On 30 June 1990, Cliff and the Shadows performed to an estimated 120,000 people at Knebworth Park as part of an all-star concert line-up that also included Paul McCartney, Phil Collins, Elton John and Tears for Fears. The concert in aid of charity was televised around the world and helped to raise $10.5 million for disabled children and young musicians. Brian Bennett resigned from the group just before the group were to embark on what would be their final tour for 14 years with Marvin, Welch and Bennett going their separate ways on 1 December following this final concert in Southampton.

This was the concert that ended an era.

A Shadows classic

3rd December – ON THE PISTE

10th December – THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE

16th December – THE GLORY OF CHRISTMAS

20th December – BABES IN THE WOOD

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