Review: Joe Brown rocks the Grand Opera House

Delighting the audience: Joe Brown
Delighting the audience: Joe Brown
Delighting the audience: Joe Brown

Review: Joe Brown In Concert
Venue: Grand Opera House, April 16

Joe Brown, aged 72, proved he “ain’t too old to rock and roll” when he gave a rousing performance of songs old and new in York.

Fronting his excellent band, the veteran rocker transformed the Grand Opera House into the tap room of an East End pub as his army of loyal fans joined in to sing songs they knew so well.

Brown is an amiable performer with an entertaining line in stage patter; he knows what his fans want and he serves it to them with panache, switching effortlessly from banjo to mandolin, guitar and violin.

His song Tickle My Heart, written for ukulele, set exactly the right tone.

His band functions like a well-oiled machine and features his gifted son Pete Brown (guitar, mandolin, ukulele and vocals), Phil Capaldi (drums and vocals), Mike Nichols (electric bass, double bass and vocals) and Ben Lee (guitar, mandolin, ukulele and vocals).

They served up entertaining rockabilly-style arrangements of classic songs by the Electric Light Orchestra, The Who, U2, 10cc Elvis Presley and Motorhead as well as a selection of Brown’s old hits, including A Picture Of You, I’m Henry The Eighth and What A Crazy World We’re Livin’ In as well as the more recent number You Ain’t Too Old To Rock And Roll.

Pete Brown’s sumptuous steel guitar conjured up images of Hawaii and there were a couple of delightful instrumentals as well: an Italian wedding waltz plus a boisterous Jewish tune.

No Joe Brown concert is complete without a heart-felt tribute to his great friend George Harrison; this time the band played Any Road from the former Beatle’s posthumous album Brainwashed.

Brown’s encore was I’ll See You In My Dreams which he sang to great acclaim, accompanying himself on ukulele, at the star-studded Concert For George at the Royal Albert Hall in 2002.