Gig Review - Dickie Rocks !
SOMETIMES it's a real pleasure to be completely, absolutely and totally wrong. Take the Dickie Rock concert in the Spectrum Centre last month, for example. I was going more out of a sense of duty than anything else. I had hoped that it wouldn't be too bad but I honestly didn't have very high expectations.
I'd heard of Dickie Rock of course. He had been big in the early sixties and represented Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1964. Apart from that, I knew nothing, so I was quite unprepared for the storming show that I saw in the packed Spectrum Centre. When I say 'packed' I mean packed. Every seat in the main hall was taken. According to a local newspaper, this was the largest audience ever for an event in the Spectrum Centre. Quite a few folk were in their seats a good hour or more before the gig began. Whatever else I might have thought of him I soon observed that Dickie Rock certainly has a very keen fan base.
When the show began, Dickie hit the stage running. 'Were you expecting somebody older?', he quipped before launching into Love is in the Air. The crowd loved it. They went wild. As Dickie warmed up the crowd began to get into the swing of things. The opening bars of familiar songs brought out more cheers of approval and rapturous applause from the body of the hall. A party from the Shankill Gateway Club - many with Downs Syndrome - began to dance in front of the stage. These young folk had a real ball.
I was impressed by the effortless way that Dickie switched from one style of singing to another. Every now and then he broke into a medley of songs. Elvis standards like Don't be Cruel, Teddy Bear and The Wonder of You preceded a complete change of rhythm to Try a Little Kindness melded into Gentle on my Mind and Things We Used to Do. I picked up on a medley of Neil Sedaka classics and some powerful renditions of Stevie Wonder's Happy Birthday, It's Now or Never, and I Can't Get No Satisfaction, complete with Mick Jagger-style attitude!
He kept up this constant change of pace throughout the show – all on his own. No backing tracks and no backing singers. The man must have some stamina. I was blown away by it all. The audience was ecstatic; all the more when Dickie left the stage and passed through sections of the audience. The members of the Gateway Club could hardly contain themselves with delight. He shook hands with me too with a good firm grip. Some ladies of a certain age in the audience looked like they might pass out with excitement. Others looked as if they'd smother Dickie to death! He just kept on singing through it all. What a pro!
Before I knew it, the show was over. The crowd bellowed for more, but Dickie had left the building. Knots of happy, smiling people reluctantly began to make their way home. Dickie Rock had given many of them their best night out in years.