Albie Wycherley was in action at the Worcester Park Club, Surrey, on August 4, 2000. Pictures and review by Ann Clark.
I thought I was an expert on 60s music, but have to admit I never knew Billy Fury had a brother until I saw this gig advertised at the Worcester Park Club, a popular local venue. Doors opened at 8, with interesting memorabilia and CDs on sale in the lobby, and the promise that Albie and Jean would sign whatever we bought after the show.
The evening started with Colin Paul and the Persuaders, and an excellent Elvis tribute. Colin has a great voice and all the right moves, the up-beat numbers ruled the day, and jive was alive and kicking on the dance floor. It went down a treat, and when he closed for the interval, with various encores and a show-stopping American Trilogy, it seemed he would be a very hard act to follow.
Albie entered to the opening bars of Halfway To Paradise, and the immense good will radiating from the audience relaxed him. This can't in any way be an easy show to do. He had to establish that we weren't all watching a ghost, but an excellent singer in his own right who happens to be the one person best qualified to do this tribute. It helped that we'd had Colin Paul on first; it firmly established that this was no reincarnation or impersonation, but a celebration of the man and the music.
And celebrate everyone did, happily and appreciatively. There were some obscure requests, but as Albie said, he could only do the ones he knew. He knew a lot of them, including Last Night Was Made For Love, I Will, Forget Him, A Thousand Stars, Wondrous Place, Maybe Tomorrow, That's Love, Be Mine Tonight and Once Upon A Dream. He also gave us Mess Of Blues since "our kid", as he endearingly referred to Billy, always used to include an Elvis number in his stage act.
During the show Albie paid well-deserved tribute to the Persuaders and to Colin Paul, who had returned with them as a backing singer. He also introduced his mum, Jean, who was in the audience, a lovely lady who appears so young she must have had her sons when she was just a babe in arms.
He finished with Halfway To Paradise but was brought back by overwhelming applause to encore with It's Only Make Believe.
"Albie Wycherley has left the building," said Colin, but he was only kidding. Albie and Jean stayed on to sign CDs and pictures and chat to the fans afterwards, which was a friendly gesture, much appreciated.
It was a memorable evening. The audience, young and old, knew all the words to all the songs. There was little visual likeness, and no real attempt to recreate the stage presence, but Albie's voice was achingly and effortlessly reminiscent of Billy's. Catch this show if you ever can, you won't be disappointed. And don't fail to buy Albie's own CD, I Never Met Colette, which contains four excellent, original and enjoyable songs.