Herman’s Hermits gives fans what they’re after

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 3, 2002

There was anything but a kind of hush at Friday night’s two Herman’s Hermits concerts at the Freeborn County Fair. Noonatics &045; as fans of lead singer Peter Noone call themselves &045; filled the grandstand to capacity.

Fans began lining up outside the gate more than two hours before the 7 p.m. concert began, and flocked to the souvenir stand as the gates opened for the chance to buy CDs, T-shirts and photos. And not all of them were local &045; some of them traveled quite a distance.

&uot;We’re very big fans of Peter Noone,&uot; said Kathy Carlin of Wallington, N.J. before the show, who attended the concert with her friend, Patti Arbore of Long Island, N.Y. &uot;We’ve been fans since the ’60s.&uot;

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Arbore added that the two of them went to a Santa Cruz concert over the past weekend for a show and returned home before coming to the Albert Lea concert. Next, the duo plans a trip to catch shows in San Diego, Calif. and Reno, Nev.

Peter Noone, the original singer of Herman’s Hermits, was joined onstage by guitarists Vance Brescia and Ron Vail, bass guitarist Ken Bousierre, drummer Dave Ferrara and keyboard player Andy Burton. The 7 p.m. set opened with the smash hit &uot;I’m Into Something Good,&uot; accompanied by enthusiastic clapping from the audience. Next, they slowed it down with &uot;Wonderful World,&uot; followed by &uot;Listen People,&uot; during which Noone greeted various members of the audience.

Next Noone joked about Herman’s Hermits having been part of the British Invasion &045; the successful one of the 1960s, as opposed to the Revolutionary War. He said that now the band was now part of the third invasion, which required them to carry green cards, commenting that the expression &uot;resident alien&uot; was somewhat of an oxymoron.

That joke was the buildup to a cover of the song &uot;The Battle of New Orleans&uot; by Johnny Horton, which after several verses fused into the real fourth song of the set, &uot;Dandy,&uot; a toe-tapping crowd-pleaser. Noone teased the crowd again with the next song, beginning with Johnny Cash’s &uot;Ring of Fire,&uot; and morphing into &uot;Leaning on a Lamp Post,&uot; a song that he jokingly claimed was &uot;stolen by Bob Dylan.&uot; His antics on that song included singing in a mock-Dylan voice, ending with a Woody Woodpecker laugh, to the amusement of the crowd.

After yet another false start with the Rolling Stones’ &uot;Start Me Up,&uot; the band played covers of Bobby Darin’s &uot;If I Were a Carpenter&uot; and &uot;Traveling Light&uot; by Hank Snow in their entirety.

&uot;No Milk Today,&uot; a song which Noone dedicated to his &uot;mum,&uot; was a classic example of the type of music that defined the sound of the British invasion of the ’60s. The band displayed a bit of their bubble-gum pop sound next with &uot;Just a Little Bit Better&uot; and &uot;Silhouettes.&uot;

The next song was dedicated to the Noonatics &045; &uot;End of the World,&uot; a slow ballad that had some members of the audience swooning. That was followed by a remarkable cover of The Yardbirds’ psychedelic-sounding &uot;For Your Love.&uot;

The band brought things up a notch again with the ultra-peppy &uot;Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat,&uot; which had the audience again clapping along. During &uot;Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter,&uot; Noone left the stage to sing to and dance with some of the younger girls in the audience.

After that was the final pair of false intros, The Who’s &uot;My Generation&uot; and, in a nod to Albert Lea’s Eddie Cochran, &uot;Summertime Blues.&uot; This led into another smash hit &uot;I’m Henry the VII, I Am,&uot; for which Noone encouraged, nay, demanded audience participation.

&uot;If the person on your right is not singing, hit them,&uot; he joked.

The final song, &uot;There’s a Kind of Hush,&uot; was the definitive hit of the show, receiving a standing ovation. The crowd’s reaction was universal: It rocked.

&uot;It was very good,&uot; said Bart Belshan of Glenville, citing that his favorite part of the show was how Noone entertained the crowd.

&uot;He has a lot of energy,&uot; said LeAnn Trolen of Twin Lakes.

&uot;Oh, I loved it,&uot; said Marcy Murca of Owatonna, who originally saw Herman’s Hermits when she was 15. &uot;He put on a good show.&uot;

The crowd began filtering out of the grandstand near the end of the final song, but they weren’t leaving. They wanted to be the first in line for autographs, which the band signed after each show. As they lined up, another long line had already formed for the second show. And from the reactions of those who had already seen it, something told them they were in for something good.