Review of Prestatyn - Midnight Hour weekender 2002
Orginally posted in news section, counts etc moved across Review of Prestatyn
- Midnight Hour Northern and Modern Soul weekender 2002
Well another weekend and another weekender! After the fabulous Conniseurs Weekend at Llandudno last weekend, it was time to yet again get act together and get on the road to carry out the short trip up coast to the Pontins Holiday Centre at Prestatyn to catch the first ever Midnight Hour Northern and Modern Soul weekender. Was it as billed a "Soul Event Of The Year" ? Was the apperance of Tony Middleton and Ray Pollard a "one to remember"? Well going to have to hit that read more to find out !! A just "had to leave"early report. Stuff at home meant had to miss the final night, so while still fresh in my mind thought I give my quick view on the weekender. As always just my own views, agree or disagree......get them in Put red pens away. No elaborate writing style intended and no care or thought taken, just writing it as it comes out so apologies to those students of English grammar amongst us
Well another weekend and another weekender! After the fabulous Conniseurs Weekend at Llandudno last weekend, it was time to yet again get act together and get on the road to carry out the short trip up coast to the Pontins Holiday Centre at Prestatyn to catch the first ever Midnight Hour Northern and Modern Soul weekender. Gotta say after last weekend where my ears were subject to 72 hours of the most concentrated amount of quality rare soul they have had to handle, the thought of 2 more niters and a dayer to get through had me in a slight concern of rare soul overload. However these concerns turned out to be well misplaced proving you cant have too much of a good thing. .Half a hour later found meself in the middle of Pontins, in quality accommodation with the gang of five (from all over uk we usually meet up every few months for quality events, as last one was CSC at Lowton had fair bit of taking mick to get through). Admission was straight forward and no hassle at all with getting sorted and finding it. Quite impressed with rooms, was in club class, all mod cons and everything you need including free ear plugs and cleaners!.
Unpacked, thought bit of relaxation coming on, and then 5 minutes later found myself "volunteering" to help Steve Fletcher of Wire FM with his radio hour. The format was an interview with Brian Rae concerning the Charly Cd series which were as you know the pioneers of cd releases. My role was to act as "sound engineer" which went quite smooth once carried out the online test of sussing out which cd eject button was which "yeah thats the one playing now" and only one wrong track which was Brians fault (of course). The interview, well as anyone who knows Brian can guess, it was very informative loads of info, facts, trivia and background stories on the actual cds, and also the tracks and the artists.The shows continued throughout the whole weekend piped into all the rooms via the tv, featuring many guests, all styles of soul and some great radio "moments". Rob Messer tied up in a chair with a plastic bag over him, somehow still managing to cue and announce 45s being one.
First niter was a cracker, as said earlier in preview, it was claimed this venue could have been custom built for a weekender, and here was the proof. Can remember it getting used a lot in 80s for funk type weekenders, and has also been used for Motown weekenders in the past, but think be right in saying first time used for Northern event.Got in there about 10 after all of us failed the intelligent test of looking door properly. Main hall was massive with quality dance floor that was getting well used. Some have said it was a bit slippy but there were some talc fiends knocking round. Tables were already filled up and a good buzz was going around. Bar area, first thing to find out was opening hours! "Errrr there are none, we have a 23 hour licence" was the encouraging reply Pint of lager was round about 2.30, so not that bad Service seemed quick through out. Record bar area was next to the bar area and very spacious. with many of the main dealers present along with "accessories" such as Roxys, Badge makers, Manifesto and so on. Seems from what I was told that the busy times of vinyl wheeling and dealing were in the afternoon. Next to this was large amusement arcade, which you had to get through to the modern room. Now this was a surprise, been conditioned at recent venues to modern rooms that are small, often seems as a bit of a afterthought. This one was massive, bigger than many main hall rooms. Everyone walking in stopped at entrance and did a double take. Rough guess of 300 odd in there, as always find the modern room always varies depending on dj on, when we visited was in a sort of main hall modern set. along with a few soul sam type plays.
Spent a fair bit of time there as at this time main hall was going thru a oldies phase. Back to main hall and sound system spent most of time in main hall right up the top end next to speaker. Sound system to my worn out ears was quality and could hear sounds played clean and clear in bar and record room. Was a problem on Saturday nite after live artists with the settings but was sorted. Sounds/DJs - Well big location, many options, and so a bit hard to keep track of who did what when and where, list of all should be at end, apologies to modern crew but sounds and modern djs recognition bit dodgy, as always if you were there and can pass word on, please do.
Main hall, well not really a "best spot" list but the three spots caught all off and enjoyed were Andy Rix, Dave Rimmer, and Chico, through out the nite heard quality sets but was moving all over the place. Sample list of sounds be at the end, but got to say the "urghh what is that " award goes to that 70s version of "I got the fever" ,did not enjoy at all and sure dj said manufactured. Unfortunately it got played twice the following nite. Style wise fairly balanced blend of something for everyone, the oldies orientated spots were no big problem as many other locations to go to. While the quality rare soul sets were just that... quality Crowd wise thing around 3 ish was peak ? Fell off thru the early hours, shame as some quality sounds were being pushed out. But more than likely due to "sensible" people saving themselves for the big nite. Got thru to around 8 then back to room, most of day was spent sorting out body clock and missed the "soul nite showcases" that were held in the main room, featuring djs from some of the uks top soul nites, should have been, Lincoln Soul Nite, Dublin Soul Nite, The Britt, Tonys, Asworth and Lowton.
Main Event was Saturday night and to me the bit been looking forward to, which was the two live major guests - Ray Pollard and Tony Middelton due on at 11-30. Planned things around that, a few flyers to dish out, roped in mike hump and andy d as flyer team, complete with fake Yorkshire and cockney accents to match the flyers. Got through the odd pint or two, and then 11.30 come up, time for the live act. Backing band seemed well up to the task, and as someone pointed out they were actually acting like a "backing" band. Lot of laughs here as the keyboard player bore a resemblance to a certain northern dj. Andy Rix was doing the MC-ing, Tony Middleton was on first and out he come delivering some classy stuff - no prizes for guessing two - To The Ends Of The Earth and Paris Blues.Song up next, well was told the reason he picked this was cause he wanted to do something with a Welsh connection. So it was his version of Tom Jones "Its not unusual". (choice brought to mind another Tom Jones connection the film Whats Up Pussy cat where Tony M sang a track on soundtrack called My little red book). After Tony out come Ray Pollard, going by the programme we worked out that as he lost a arm in the Korean war his minimum age to be at least 68, unbelievable as looking and hearing at him seemed a whole lot younger.
Songs delivered included This time, Somebody Elses Sweetheart, Its a Sad Thing and of course.... The Drifter Wow pure magic to me, but best was yet to come, after a bit of banter and messing around, both come out and treated us to one of those magic moments you will remember for rest of your life. Both doing a incredible duet of "I Have Faith In You", to me the atmosphere, timing and delivery all made it an incredible moment. Definitely the highlight of the event to me. The critics gave Ray Pollard the winning vote, voice performance wise, though to me both highly entertaining, and while the whole act must have been rehearsed fully, it still had a air of spontaneously which added to the enjoyment. Overall really enjoyed the whole act.
Choice and the amount of songs was about right, the whole "feel" of it was tremendous, no over the top rigid production, just two great soul singers delivering classic soul nnd got to mention the "I have faith in you" duet again, inspired choice, and worked really well. Plus what summed up the whole spirit of event, throughout the weekend both stars were freely available to chat with, sign autographs and so on. Often popping up everywhere, bit of a shock when having a "sort you out" coffee to find Tony M on next table, this was typical of the whole event, no restrictions on videos, no over organised staged events.Just reinforced the feeling that this was an event for Soul fans put on by Soul fans, and as mate said it was also a chance to pay our respects and thanks to two great soul singers. Well what could follow that??
Try this for size the next five hours consisted of a DJ line up in following order Roger Banks, Andy Rix, Rob Thomas, Mark Bicknell then Carl Willingham Ouch, quality and then some or what, ended up doing a fair bit of catching up as a lot of mates from all over the uk there, and had a right old laugh. Rob Smith finished the nite off with final set that went well over the 8 o clock planned end and only finished after the cleaners formed a protest group.
Overall a top nite Saturday, that duet being the highlight, with the quality sets underlining the fact that it was a top nite. Well as had some pre-planned stuff to do on Sunday at home, that if missed would be writing this in ward 10 of local hospital (as wife warned me), had to get away so missed the midday - 1 am Monday session, if you were there pass on how it went.
Overall cloudy view the day after the event, well weekend to me was sheer entertainment, live artists set ....wonderful, sounds - some well top quality sets were dished out, the old "something for everyone" pops up again and reckon was achieved with a good balance of rarities/oldies on offer, the enormous modern room seemed to be getting well used, the facilities and organisation - gotta say highest quality, didnt spot any hiccups, accommodation was well on the ball, and the venues were outrageously good.
Crowd - think capacity was 5000, at times there were 1000+ in and the venue handled it easy, no queues or ought. Numbers thinned a bit around 4 ish, but still a fair few doing the early morning shift on Sunday morning.
Crowd wise, was a mixed crowd from all over UK, as said met up with people from all over London, Yorkshire, NWest, SE, SW in fact all corners. Large amount of North Wales gang in, after last two weeks think North Wales coast is on flood alert as may sink if it gets any more quality rare soul heaped on it. Sounds - well after 72 hours, many quality sounds, but after tapping out all above will give listing a miss, but will just mention the one record that is knocking around my head still Andy Rix Play - switch around-wallie hawkins and rose marie mccoy Final Verdict So it was billed as a "soul event of the year" did it live up to that? Well from my weekend experience, have got to say it lived up to that billing.
Everyone I spoke to at event and since have gave it a big thumbs up ( 70s Fred Pontins pun intended). Some said it was the best faculties and organisation that they have come across. And as for entertainment and value wise, well entertainment wise well as you can guess by above I was thorough entertained. Value wise, well 30 odd quid for all the above, even though missed the last 12 hours got to say looking back ..a bargain. To finish off think following sums it up, one main factor which made the event for me, was the overall feeling of the whole event was ... quite simply the impression I got was it was a soul event put on for soul fans by soul fans. And everything reflected this, no over the top commericalism, no crappy 70s style politics, no djs gobbing off, no heavy handed security, no egos, no staged events. Just a Soul Event for Soul fans - simple but effective!!
Extra Bit - Dates for next one are out, and have been told bookings are already at the 3 figure point, definte artists are not confirmed but word is could be two jaw dropping names and do mean jaw dropping.
Big thanks from me to all responsible for weekend - The Midnight Hour Crew - Rob Wigley, John Poole, Fish, Rob Thomas, Mark Fletcher Know there was a fair few un-offical people helping out with various things - Steve Fletcher and Bernie OBrien were just two and am sure plenty of more who deserve credit but unfortunately havent names. The Djs - Andy Rix, Rob Thomas, Roger Banks, Dave Rimmer, Carl Willingham, John Parker, Kitch, Dave Raistrick, Pat Brady, Mark Bicknell, Simon Hunt,Chico, Kevin Thomas, Neil Rushton, Mick H, Rob Smith, Bernie O Brian, Jez Barlow, Carl and Joe (Dublin) Mick Boyle, Glyn Sisson, Scotty and Co, Andy Riley Modern - Rob Wigley, Andy Taylor, Chris Anderton, Mick Farrar, Steve Hobbs, Fish, Cliff Steele, Ivor Jones, Yogi H, Adam, The Modern Live acts - Shabazz and Gary desEtages And of course Tony Middleton and Ray Pollard