“We started a long time ago in this little club called The Cavern,” said Herman’s Hermits singer Peter Noone onstage at the Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady on Friday night. The Cavern Club in Liverpool, England, is best known as the birthplace of the Beatles, but Herman’s Hermits got their start there too, as a teen beat-pop band.
Noone was just 15 years old when the band started in 1963, and he already had a career as a British soap opera star. Now at 72, Noone still has an eternally youthful look and the skilled
showiness of an actor.
He’s also very funny. He had the crowd in stitches with his jokes, some canned and some not – like his hysterical attempts to pronounce local place names like Schenectady and Cobleskill with a slurred upstate New York accent.
A couple seated before the show in the Duke’s Chophouse bar – where colorful gaming machines flashed nearby – said they had traveled from Long Island to see the constantly
touring singer, who never disappoints them.
They were right.
Noone, dressed in a three-piece cornflower-blue suit and black leather tie, was a pure entertainer.
Anyone expecting the original Herman’s Hermits would be let down. Noone left that group in 1971 for a solo career. Original Herman’s Hermits drummer Barry Whitman tours with another version of the band, so there are two competing versions of the Hermits out there, each with only one original member.
In front of a backdrop of the Union Jack flag, Noone and his polished band stuck to the sweet ‘60s pop from the time when the Hermits were at the peak of their success. Although they sold more than 60 million recordings and had seven gold albums, Herman’s Hermits were rarely songwriters, but they successfully packaged their well-chosen singles into charming, crowd-pleasing pop.
Songs performed from that era included opener “I’m Into Something Good,” the Gerry Goffin and Carole King tune that was the band’s first single, and “(What a) Wonderful World,” a song popularized by Sam Cooke but covered by the Hermits.
They also played the effervescent “Dandy,” a U.S. hit for the Hermits written by the Kinks.
“You may have noticed we’re only doing ‘60s songs tonight. They’re the only ones we know,” joked Noone, who continued to record throughout the ‘70s as a solo artist.
Noone added the effervescent energy of a teenager and the witty banter of a comedian on covers like the Monkees’ “Daydream Believer,” the Beatles’ “All My Loving,” the Clovers’ “Love
Potion No. 9,” Freddie & the Dreamers’ “I’m Telling You Now,” Manfred Mann’s “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” and the Hollies’ “Bus Stop.”
They closed with three of the Hermits’ biggest hits. After “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter,” a Ramones-inspired “hey ho” chant led into the irrepressible “I’m Henry the Eighth I
Am” followed by “There’s a Kind of Hush.”
A huge line formed at the merchandise table afterward as fans lined up for autographs, signed records and selfies with the beaming Noone.