Gene Pitney @ The Broadway Theatre

SUNDAY sees music legend Gene Pitney visit Peterborough at the beginning of his 24-date UK tour. Having never seen him live before, I first ask Mr Pitney what type of a band he is currently on the road with. A full orchestra, he replies proudly, I ha

SUNDAY sees music legend Gene Pitney visit Peterborough at the beginning of his 24-date UK tour.

Having never seen him live before, I first ask Mr Pitney what type of a band he is currently on the road with.

"A full orchestra," he replies proudly, "I have that everywhere in the world - and my musical director is on piano. And my rhythm section. That's guitar, bass and drums - with two trumpets, saxophone, trombone, and four violins."

At first, I naively imagine this large ensemble taking up many seats on an aeroplane as Gene tours the world, but he explains that his musical director seeks out the very best music musicians from country to country, and Gene and his rhythm section simply join up with them in each country or continent.

One trumpet player on his UK dates has been with him for over 30 years. It seems a far cry from four band members throwing themselves into a band van and trekking across the country - but I'm confidently imagining the sound at his shows is worth every bit of the additional planning.

Through all the touring of his career, do any songs remind him of particular places?

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"Yes, absolutely - well, it's actually the other way around. Different countries associate different songs with me. It's not necessarily the biggest hits. In this country it's definitely 24 Hours From Tulsa, in Australia it's The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and in Italy it's a song called Nessuno Mi Puo Guidicare, and in the States it's A Town Without Pity."

Does he tailor his setlists to the country he plays in? The hits, he says, are ever-present, but it's the lesser known songs that mean just as much to him.

"These songs are very important to me and we change that every time we go out - we're playing many songs this time that we didn't last time around."

I suggest that changing the less known songs must add some variety to the dates he plays, but he insists he never gets bored of playing.

"Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart is different from I'm Gonna Be Strong, and is different from 24 Hours From Tulsa - they are different styles, different tempos, and different types of songs."

He is now working with his son. "I have a recording studio at home, and have been writing with my son for a new CD, which makes it interesting. At this point in my career I'm not going to put something out that isn't good.

"So, we're going to do 20 or 25 songs, and then put the cream of the crop out."

There isn't any style, he says. "We're just doing whatever comes into our heads."

But after so many years, what it is about touring that he still clearly loves?

"It's that live audience reaction. On a given night when everything works - the lights are right, the sound is right, the orchestra is right, you're feeling right, and the ambience in the theatre is right - there is just a magic about it that gives you shivers."

INFORMATION: The Broadway Box Office: 01733 316100.

www.thebroadwaytheatre.co.uk

Tickets £22.50

CHRIS BOLAND

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