A Tribute to Mike Smith
The BB King Blues Club, New York City / August 2, 2005

Review by "Lady" Jane Rushmore


A Tribute to Mike Smith
The BB King Blues Club
New York City
Master of ceremonies:
Paul Shaffer
The Fab Faux
Billy J. Kramer
Denny Laine
Peter & Gordon
The Zombies
Special guest
appearances by
Donald Fagan and
Max Weinberg



A few weeks before the concert, I was listening to Andrew Loog Oldham's satellite radio show. The guy's in his early 60's and is credited with discovering and managing The Rolling Stones during the great "British Invasion" of America. He was right there in the thick of it so when he made the following statement I paid close attention: "The Dave Clark Five in many ways were more a part of American lives. We laughed at 'em. I mean, come on, the outfits, you know, they looked like hairdressers. But they were The Beatles for a good ten minutes."

Yeah, I know what he means, but as teenagers we didn't think too much about their outfits. I mean, The Beatles set the pace with those collarless matching jackets, the hair, and boots. All the British bands, including Eric Burdon and The Animals, wore matching suits. Ok, so when The Stones debuted they wore t-shirts, sweatshirts, jeans, and so on and that set them apart, but if any band was laughed at because of their attire it was The Stones, at least, by the older generation. My old man thought they were a joke.

Before you think this is an issue, rest assured that Andrew was just being Andrew on his show and this was not an attack, but rather just another cast away comment. Andrew's show is a treat. He always speaks his mind and the music is fantastic. Catch it when you can.

But the look wasn't the thing that made the Dave Clark Five The Beatles for ten minutes. It was the music that did that. They had a string of top ten rockers: "Glad All Over," "Bits & Pieces," "Can't You See That She's Mine," "Come Home," "Catch Us If You Can," and many others including "Because," a ballad that truly rivals The Fabs' "Till There Was You." They were the number 2 group of The British Invasion, trailing The Beatles by a hair, for over a year.

A guy who should have his own radio show and program a channel on satellite radio is Paul Shaffer. This guy knows and loves the entire history of rock and roll. It was his passion that inspired him to put together a tribute show for the DC5's singer and keyboardist Mike Smith. Smith wrote or co-wrote all the group's hits and it was his raw or tender vocals that put them over. He had a freak accident at his home in Spain a few years ago. He fell from a fence and broke his neck, leaving him a teraplegic with only limited use of his upper body.

Shaffer organized the show which took place at the BB King Blues Club in New York City on Tuesday evening, August 2. The joint was rockin' and packed with Dave Clark Five fans. Shaffer spoke backstage before the first show:"I saw Peter & Gordon in those days, in about 1966, they came to my home town in Canada and they played for about 20 minutes, but the excitement level was so high I don't think I could have stood more than 20 minutes. Anyway, The Fab Faux will do a set. Then they'll be a set change and, uh, the little house band I put together for the occasion will back up Billy J. Kramer, Denny Laine, and Peter & Gordon, and then The Zombies will close, and hopefully I'm going to try to get everybody on stage for a rousing finale."

Billy J. Kramer with Paul Shaffer
Peter & Gordon

At show time there was a major problem . . . no Zombies! They were stuck in Toronto due to the Air France crash on the runway. The airport was shut down. Shaffer called David Letterman. The group drove to Hamilton where a plane that Letterman chartered picked them up. While the opening acts were performing at the first show, The Zombies flew to Teterboro Airport in New Jersey and drove to midtown Manhattan. They arrived at the club at 11PM, just when the second show was scheduled to begin. It's interesting to note that all of the Dave Clark Five's appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show took place on the very stage where Paul and Dave do their TV thing every night. Rock and Roll never forgets.

Several videos were shown before the live music: The DC5 in black and white from the 60's, Mike with his band Rock Engine from a Letterman appearance a few years back, and one shot in his hospital room where he expressed gratitude and ended with "I better shut up now so the show can go on."

The Fab Faux kicked things off with a phenomenal post-Revolver Beatles set including "Penny Lane," "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," and "Tomorrow Never Knows." The only non-Beatles number they did was a note-perfect rendition of the DC5's "Catch Us If You Can."

The Zombies featuring original members
Colin Blunstone (l) and Rod Argent (r)

Billy J. Kramer was next with "Little Children," "Bad To Me," and the Mike Smith composition "Come Home." Denny Laine, formerly of The Moody Blues and Wings, did "Go Now" and a kick-ass version of "Anyway You Want It." Peter & Gordon harmonized on "A World Without Love," "Lady Godiva," "Woman" and "Because." For two guys who hadn't performed together in over 37 years they were outstanding. Schaffer's backup band, with cellos and horns, aided them in sounding just like their old records.

The Zombies provided a high energy set: "She's Not There," "Tell Her No," "Time Of The Season," Argent's "Hold Your Head Up" and a great version of "Can't You See That She's Mine" were treats for all the fans in attendance. Original Zombies Ron Argent and Colin Blunstone still have sensational vocal skills and the musicianship of the band overall was outstanding.

Donald Fagan from Steely Dan and Max Weinberg from The E Street Band joined the entire cast for the early show finale. The second show ended a little past 4 AM after all the performers joined together on stage to perform "Can't You See That She's Mine" and "Glad All Over."

A DVD of the evening will be released soon. Paul Shaffer is the best . . . period.
Thank you sir.

If you would like to make a donation to Mike Smith, send it to:

Mike Smith Benefit
c/o Talent Consultants International, Ltd
1560 Broadway, Suite 1308
New York, N.Y. 10036

Concert photos: George Napolitano


Printable version | Back to Archives | e-mail this review