1989 April to June

3rd April – live on stage – one night only – MIKE HARDING

MIKE HARDING – 45 year old English singer, songwriter, comedian, author, poet, broadcaster, multi-instrumentalist, photographer, traveller, filmmaker and playwright. This was Mike’s 5th appearance at this theatre and was here to promote his new album ‘God’s Own Drunk’. Always guaranteed an evening of music and laughter.

Part of Mike Harding’s 1989 show

5th April – KOOL AND THE GANG

April 5, 1989 – live on stage – one night only –KOOL & THE GANG – an American band formed in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1964 by brothers Robert “Kool” Bell and Ronald Bell, with Dennis “D.T.” Thomas, Robert Mickens, Charles Smith, George Brown, and Ricky West. By the time they made their first and only visit to the theatre they had undergone numerous changes in personnel and explored many musical styles, including jazz, soul, funk, rock, and pop music. They released their debut album, Kool and the Gang in 1970 and this tour in 1989 coincided with the release of their new studio album ‘Sweat’.

Kool And The Gang performing Raindrops

6th April – GENE PITNEY

Live on stage – for one night only – Gene Pitney was a 49 year old American singer-songwriter, musician, and sound engineer at the time of his appearance at the Mayflower. It was his first visit to the theatre for 20 years, since 1969. His first concert in Southampton had been at the ABC in Above Bar.

Pitney had 22 Top 40 hits, and 11 singles in the Top Ten. He also wrote the early 1960s hits “Rubber Ball” recorded by Bobby Vee, “He’s a Rebel” by the Crystals, and “Hello Mary Lou” by Ricky Nelson.

Gene Pitney performing at around this time
Gene Pitney (with Marc Almond) in 1989

8th April – HERE COMES GARFIELD

Live on stage – for one day only – HERE COMES GARFIELD – a children’s stage show based on a 1982 animated television special featuring the comic strip cat, Garfield by Jim Davis.

An excerpt from the show

11th April – FRENCH AND SAUNDERS

On the stage – for one more night – FRENCH AND SAUNDERS’ March 9th show sold out within hours of the booking office opening – so this additional date was added – and again it was a complete sell out.

French and Saunders as they were

13th April – CHAS AND DAVE

On the stage – one night only – This was Chas & Dave’s second visit to the Mayflower. Charles Nicholas “Chas” Hodges and David Victor “Dave” Peacock met in 1963, but only started writing songs together in 1972. In the 1960s and 1970s, Hodges and Peacock were in various groups. Hodges was with The Outlaws and then Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers, while Dave Peacock was with a group called the Rolling Stones (formed before the more famous one) and The Tumbleweeds. Both Hodges and Peacock had worked as session musicians and in backing bands for a wide range of artists; Hodges as part of The Outlaws had worked with Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Vincent, Bill Haley, and also supported the Beatles as the Rebel Rousers.

The name Chas & Dave came about when they were doing sessions together. They recorded their first album as Chas & Dave in 1974. A song from the album, “Strummin'”, was their first song to reach the chart. In early 1979, one of their songs was used used for a notable television commercial for Courage Bitter, and the song was then re-recorded and released as a single, retitled “Gertcha”. By 1989 they had a number of hits and were able to sell out venues up and down the country.

Chas and Dave performing

15th April – SHAKIN’ STEVENS

On the stage – one night only – A Welsh singer/songwriter. He was the UK’s biggest-selling singles artist of the 1980s  His recording and performing career began in the late 1960s, although it was not until 1980 that his commercial success began. His most successful songs were nostalgia hits, evoking the sound of 1950s rock and roll and pop. In the UK alone, Stevens has charted 33 Top 40 singles including four chart-topping hits “This Ole House”, “Green Door”, “Oh Julie”, and “Merry Christmas Everyone”.

By the time of this, his third visit to the theatre in 1979 Shaky was at the very zenith of his powers and, perhaps, the breaking-point of marketing overload from which there is only decline.

Shakin’ Stevens on Top Of The Pops in 1989

25th April – TALES OF TOAD HALL

On the stage from Tuesday – for 5 days – MAYFLOWER –

TALES OF TOAD HALL, a musical dramatisation for children, of the play Tales of Toad Hall (by Kenneth Grahame). This early musical derived from the book ‘Wind In The Willows’ was produced by Theatre Royal, Bath.

1st May – LONDON FESTIVAL BALLET – COPPELIA

This was the last performance in Southampton and one of the last in the country as London Festival Ballet. Just a few weeks later the dance company was renamed English National Ballet to reflect changes in the funding system impacting a reduction in the length of the London seasons and the Company’s ability to field two parallel tours thus substantially increasing the number of venues visited each year.

The creation of the London Festival Ballet School in 1988

This production of Coppelia became the first ballet to be staged under the new company name when it opened at the Royal Festival Hall in August.

7th May – YAZZ

On stage – for one day only – YAZZ – MAYFLOWER – A British pop singer, who remains best known for her successful 1988 dance track, “The Only Way Is Up”. This was her only visit to the theatre. Yazz was born in Shepherd’s Bush, London, to a Jamaican father and English mother. She attended Holland Park School, where she excelled at sports, and was a member of the England under-19 volleyball team. After a spell as a catwalk model, she scored a number of club hits after recording with the group The Biz in 1983. Her first commercial success came in early 1988, when she supplied the vocals on Coldcut’s “Doctorin’ the House”. She soon launched a solo career on Big Life records, a label set up by her husband Jazz Summers, releasing her debut single, “The Only Way Is Up”, in the summer of 1988. It went on to spend five weeks at the top of the UK Singles Chart, eventually becoming the second biggest selling UK single of the year. Suddenly one of Britain’s biggest pop acts, her follow-up “Stand Up for Your Love Rights” was another big hit (UK number 2), while her debut album Wanted (UK number 3) was certified double platinum in the UK in September 1989, for sales exceeding 600,000. At the time of her visit to the theatre she had a fourth UK top 10 single with “Fine Time”.

Watch Yazz performing in 1989

8th May – WAYNE SLEEP

On the stage – for six days – WAYNE SLEEP – MAYFLOWER – this was Wayne’s second visit to this theatre, this time in a show called Bits And Pieces. A British dancer, director, choreographer, and actor who, at only 5′ 2″, is the shortest male dancer admitted into the Royal Ballet School. Had he not left his audition for the school early and missed his final physical examination, he would not have gained a place. Because of his diminutive stature, many directors were reluctant to cast him in traditional male lead roles. As a result, many roles were created for him by noted choreographers, including Ashton, MacMillan, de Valois, Layton, Nureyev, Gillian Lynne and Neumeier. Sleep is often chosen for character roles because of his unusual physique. In 1982, Andrew Lloyd Webber adapted his Variations album as the second half of stage show Song and Dance for Sleep after he had created the role of Mr Mistoffelees in Lloyd Webber’s musical Cats in London’s West End at the New London Theatre in 1981.

Wayne Sleep performing in a 1989 Royal Gala

15th May – THE HOBBIT

Live on stage – for six days – THE HOBBIT – Mayflower – This musical production of The Hobbit, derived from the Tolkein novel, was aimed at children but found favour with a large section of adult fans of The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit. Directed by Kenneth Alan Taylor and produced by Nottingham Playhouse and UpStart the show had 4 evening performances and eight matinees.

21st May – DEACON BLUE

Live on stage – for one night only – DEACON BLUE – MAYFLOWER – a Scottish pop rock band formed in Glasgow during 1985. The line-up of the band consists of vocalists Ricky Ross and Lorraine McIntosh, keyboard player James Prime and drummer Dougie Vipond. The band released their debut album, Raintown, on 1 May 1987 in the United Kingdom and in the United States in February 1988. This concert was to promote their second album, When the World Knows Your Name, which topped the UK Albums Chart for two weeks, and included “Real Gone Kid” which became their first top ten single in the UK Singles Chart.

Deacon Blue performing in 1989

23rd May – CLANNAD

Live – one night only – CLANNAD – MAYFLOWER –

Clannad are an Irish family band formed in 1970 in Gweedore, County Donegal. Their music has been described as folk, folk rock, traditional Irish, Celtic and new-age, often incorporating elements of smooth jazz and Gregorian chant. Formed by siblings Ciarán Brennan, Pól, and Moya Brennan and their twin uncles Noel and Pádraig Duggan, the band were initially known as Clann as Dobhar; in 1973 they shortened their name to Clannad. By 1979 they had released three albums and completed a successful US tour. From 1980 to 1982, they recorded and toured as a six-piece group with Enya on additional keyboards and vocals, before she left the group to pursue a solo career. In 1982, Clannad attracted international attention with their hit single “Theme from Harry’s Game”, which was included on Magical Ring (1983). They adopted a musical direction of Celtic and pop music in the 1980s, as evident on Macalla (1985). This was the first of two appearances at the Mayflower in 1989.

25th May – BANANARAMA

Live in concert – for one night only – BANANARAMA – MAYFLOWER – an English female pop music vocal duo, originally formed as a trio in London in 1981 by friends Sara Dallin, Siobhan Fahey and Keren Woodward. Fahey left the group in 1988 and formed Shakespears Sister. She was replaced by Jacquie O’Sullivan. This line-up had UK top five hits with “I Want You Back” (1988) and The Beatles track “Help!” (1989), recorded with comedy duo French and Saunders for the charity Comic Relief. In 1989 they embarked on their first world tour which stopped at the Mayflower for Bananarama’s only Southampton performance. The tour supported four studio albums, Deep Sea Skiving, Bananarama, True Confessions, and Wow! as well as the group’s Greatest Hits Collection. At the same time, Bananarama entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the all-female group who had the most chart entries in history.

A video from Bananarama

27th May – RUFUS STONE

In concert – one night only – RUFUS STONE – MAYFLOWER – the acclaimed 8 piece Southampton based soul band Rufus Stone had been performing constantly since their formation in 1984. It was created by former Lulu and the Luvvers drummer Henry Wright, some of the very best musicians in the south play with or have played with the band over this period. This was their second concert at the Mayflower.

A more recent video of Rufus Stone

Rufus Stone went on to perform at every kind of venue from the wonderful Royal Albert Hall to city theatres, cruise ships and open air events such as the Round the World Yacht Race and Goodwood Festival of Speed. They have also performed with the likes of Edwin Starr, Curtis Mayfield, Ben E King, Jimmy Ruffin and many of soul music’s greats.

30th May – THE PIED PIPER

Live on stage – for FIVE days only – THE PIED PIPER – Mayflower – Poet Robert Browning might have had trouble getting to grips with the rock ‘n’ roll and rap music – but he instantly would have recognised his poem. The Pied Piper had been magnificently updated in musical form by The National Theatre. With its fantastical set and weird costumes the production still retains a strange fairy-tale quality in spite of its exciting rock music score. Matthew Kelly steps into the role created by Sylvester McCoy and proves he was wasted as a game show host as he brings to life a charismatic and magical Pied Piper with an unexpectedly rich singing voice. Some wonderful special effects made the show a treat not just for children but for adults too. Adrian Mitchell’s script does not allow the moral of the tale run away with the rats.

11th June – THE SHADOWS

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Live on stage – for one night only – THE SHADOWS a British instrumental group, The Shadows, were back on tour in 1989 to promote their new album ‘Steppin To The Shadows’, their 20th UK album release. This marked their 15th visit to the theatre. The band were Cliff Richard’s backing band from 1958 to 1968 and have also collaborated again on numerous reunion tours. The Shadows have placed 69 UK charted singles, 35 credited to the Shadows and 34 to Cliff Richard and the Shadows. The group, who were in the forefront of the UK beat-group boom and were the first backing band to emerge as stars. As pioneers of the four-member instrumental format, the band consisted of lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar and drums. Their range covers pop, rock, surf rock and ballads with a jazz influence.

The Shadows perform FBI on their 1989 tour

13th June – JOSEPH AND HIS AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT

On the stage – for five days – JOSEPH & THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT, the second visit of Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat to the Mayflower this time with British musician and actor Mike Holoway as Joseph. He was the drummer and percussionist in Flintlock and at the same time became an actor. From 1985 Holoway had toured in Bill Kenwright’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which had proved to be one of the most successful runs of the musical up to this time.

Listen to Mike Holoway sing Close Every Door – https://soundcloud.com/rob_cope/close-every-door-mike-holoway

20th June – WELSH NATIONAL OPERA

On the stage – for five days – WELSH NATIONAL OPERA,  This was the sixth visit of Welsh National Opera to their English base, The Mayflower. They brought three operas from their repertoire as part of their summer tour. On Tuesday and Friday they performed La Sonnambula, an opera semiseria in two acts, with music in the bel canto tradition by Vincenzo Bellini set to an Italian libretto by Felice Romani, based on a scenario for a ballet-pantomime written by Eugène Scribe and choreographed by Jean-Pierre Aumer called La somnambule, ou L’arrivée d’un nouveau seigneur. The ballet had premiered in Paris in September 1827 at the height of a fashion for stage works incorporating somnambulism. On Wednesday and Saturday the opera Ariadne auf Naxos was performed an opera by Richard Strauss with a German libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal that combines slapstick comedy and consummately beautiful music, the opera’s theme is the competition between high and low art for the public’s attention. Finally the Friday evening performance was La Boheme, Puccini’s four act opera based on Henri Murger’s novel, Scènes de la vie de bohème, a collection of vignettes portraying young bohemians living in the Latin Quarter of Paris in the 1840s. Despite the opera’s popularity with audiences, some music critics find his music insufficiently sophisticated or difficult. The composer Benjamin Britten wrote in 1951, “After four or five performances I never wanted to hear Bohème again. In spite of its neatness, I became sickened by the cheapness and emptiness of the music.”

WNO’s Guide to La Boheme
A Royal Patron attending a 1989 performance of WNO in Boston

27th June – FIDDLER ON THE ROOF

On the stage – for six days – FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, a local theatre company, Southern Theatre Productions moved their 1989 performances from their more usual autumn spot to this summer date. This was the first time the company had produced Fiddler and it since 1978 at the Gaumont. James Dyer took the lead role of Teyve. Rich with musical hits including “Tradition,” “Sunrise, Sunset,” “If I Were A Rich Man,” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” and “To Life (L’Chaim!),” FIDDLER ON THE ROOF is the heartwarming story of fathers and daughters, husbands and wives, and life, love and laughter.

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