Last Friday (4 November), The Troggs launched into the instantly-recognisable, opening wail of guitarist Chris Britton’s bending guitar strings of 'Wild Thing', which was enough to send ladies hurtling toward the stage.
They were getting straight into it? Really? Of course they weren’t. The wail just as quickly turned into an abrupt halt – as the band chuckled – informing the crowd that they were “a bit premature”.
The band commanded the stage and the show was pure Brit-rock from those first teasing moments. Clad in black leather waistcoats with their long, greying hair fluttering in the breeze, the crowd couldn’t help but grin ear-to-ear, as they saw how much energy these ageing rockers brought to the stage.
The crowd was a mix of original fans, who packed rows of seats early, and the children of those fans like me, who mingled round the outskirts, wondering whether this ‘sit-down’ set-up would last very long once the band got going. They eased into the set with a few lesser-known tracks, like my personal favourite B-side, ‘From Home’, which had me in awe of founding guitarist Chris Britton’s dexterity, for a man that must be around 70.
Each hit was as anthemic as the next, as crowd members suddenly recognised songs they’d forgotten were Troggs originals, like ‘Love Is All Around’ (written by late vocalist Reg Presley), which is more popularly known in Australia as the number one smash for Wet Wet Wet, in 1994. ‘With A Girl Like You’ really got some hips shaking: couples, young and old imagined they were meeting for the first-time, in a '60s dance hall.
To see The Troggs live, at such a small venue, seemed an unreal opportunity. I had all the usual sceptical thoughts that one does, before seeing such a classic rock band play a small venue, with a line-up that is not the original. But for a band that broke onto the scene in the mid '60s, it’s pretty rich to call bass player Pete Lucas an ‘unoriginal’ member, as he’s currently celebrating his 41st year with the band.
As a second-generation fan, I remember a group of boys at primary school getting a band together to cover ‘Wild Thing’, at the talent quest. The singer was probably no more than eight-years old, and, even with his pre-pubescent delivery, ‘Wild Thing’ had all the mums and dads applauding, and was etched in my brain as one of the ultimate rock songs. It was, and still is, so cool in its simplicity, that it has stood the test of time.
This show confirmed, for me, that age is just a number, and Chris Britton really is one of the original, riff-rocking legends. He encapsulates all that is great about dirty, valve-amp '60s guitar that hasn’t been complicated by an entire suitcase of pedals.
The three-piece rock & roll band, with a fabulous, strutting frontman, is definitely still working for The Troggs, and I’ll bet they’ve got a number of years of live shows in them yet.