Some scenes from the 2023 tour courtesy Mark Ellis

Frank Allen’s Searchers News August 2023

Hi there once again.

At last we have the completed list of shows which form the Thank You Tour 2024. For most of them I believe the tickets will go on sale pretty much straight away but different theatres have different ways of dealing with these things so please don`t take it that you can ring up and automatically expect that they will be available. Be patient and try not to upset the theatre staff.

I`m sure some of you will be thinking that this tour is maybe a bit of a cynical move after having declared retirement in 2019 and then after a break of four years following up with the forty three date schedule that ended in June this year. Quite understandable. I more or less pointed out most of the reasons in my previous newsletter but I`ll try to explain the reasoning behind it again now.

Because of time constraints and the considerations of age we naturally kept that comeback tour to a comfortable number although even that ended up three more than planned. And for the same reasons it was carefully designed by Alan Field to keep distances as short as was reasonably possible. But of course this meant that many areas were left out of the run leaving a lot of disappointed people who wanted to say an emotional goodbye.

Scotland, we felt, was a few steps too far on that occasion for people of our vintage. The driving required, often on long country roads, was a little too much to take on at our time of life. But it is a place where we have enjoyed terrific audiences and the best hospitality in the past and we felt bad about it and felt it was important to remedy the problem.

This time round Alan Field has the onerous task of organising a plan which involves The Searchers being transported north by either train or plane, we haven`t decided which option is the best yet, and then to be supplied with a driver for the Scottish shows before getting us all back to our homes and into our cars for the remainder of the tour. Much more relaxing for us old guys. It sounds far easier than in fact it will be. And certainly more expensive. Don`t forget, promoters have to make money. It`s only fair. So you Scottish fans might help to ease Mr Field`s pain a little by turning up in your thousands to make it all worthwhile and keep him out of the bankruptcy courts. But whatever the pros and cons are Scotland is very much a part of Thank You 2024, albeit just four cities. Inverness, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Anyone who came to this year`s final night at The Philharmonic in Liverpool will have witnessed a very special evening which was just off the scale in atmosphere. Someone described the night as epic and indeed it was. It was so wonderful and so in the right place, Liverpool where the whole saga began all those decades ago, that we have no intention of trying to better or even equal that. There will be no big finish. But if there is going to be an equivalent at all I have a sneaky feeling that The Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow just might be the main contender.

This time the concerts south of the border are comprised of towns and theatres which for whatever reason never made it into the 2023 dates. Sometimes they simply could not give us an available date as in the case of The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury or The Embassy, Skegness, both favourites of ours and which are now included. At other times the dates they offered had already been assigned to another theatre. You can`t always get what you want, as The Stones have often stated. A touch of irony from a band who surely have got so much more than they ever imagined.

And there will still be those regions who have missed out yet again. Devon and Cornwall come to mind. I`m not quite sure what the problem there was but in the end it just wasn`t possible. We have ended up with a datesheet of twenty eight shows. It was never going to be a long run like the last time. Age is a controlling factor. I will be eighty and John will be just short of eighty three. At these ages we should be sitting in comfy chairs munching on digestive biscuits and watching The Repair Shop instead of trooping round the British Isles playing silly buggers on stage.

Another major factor in wanting to do it again is that the last tour was just so much fun. And that certainly took me by surprise. I can`t speak for the others but I am pretty sure they felt the same. We started off a bit shaky, not that our audiences in Wimborne and Weymouth seemed to mind, but from that point on it kept getting better and better. And most importantly we were all having such a great time. I`ve never known such a wonderful atmosphere in the band for decades. Bonding with your fellow workers is such a cliché but this was real life and so much better than I ever could have envisaged.

A great deal of credit has to go to the crew, Jimi Howell and Rob Hawkins, who kept us in great spirits throughout. It was always going to be a tough ask for them to fill the shoes of Phil Hayes and John Semark but believe me they did it. Rob took on the job of lifting John McNally`s spirits every night at the point of going on stage. He had him in fits of laughter every show as the play on music started. It made such a difference believe me. And Jimi was keeping the wheels of the machine running so smoothly as well as making sure we had a great sound every show.

I`m not sure of the current state of John`s wrist injury. It was certainly improving week by week during the tour and I hope he will have a complete recovery but believe me it was a serious situation and he is still receiving therapy. As long as it hasn`t regressed in any way we`ll be fine I`m sure. But as I have so often stated health and age are not under our control and so we all have to hope that we stay in good shape at least for this last hurrah.

Yes, I said last. Never say never is always the rule now but I seriously think this has to be our last outing at least as far as touring goes. Would we ever be able to do a one-off gala concert or something similar if the opportunity arose? I suppose it`s possible. Entertainers never really retire. Let`s get this lot over first. Tomorrow is another day, as Scarlet O`Hara said to Rhett Butler.

As always, on behalf of John, Spencer and Richie I thank you so much for being with us all through the decades. Stay safe and we look forward to seeing you next year. Let`s try and make it another huge success.

Frank Allen.

August 2023 – Frank reviews the 2023 tour and looks forward to the 2024 one

Management: Alan Field
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