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LIVE: Shepherds Bush Empire 2005

www.shepherds-bush-empire.co.uk

Emerging from Shepherds Bush underground, I overheard the way to the Empire from a passing pedestrian, and arrived at the theatre at around 6.30pm. Daylight was just starting to give way to dusk and the temperature was falling. There must have been 500-1000 queuing in anticipation of seeing their hero, Shakin' Stevens, in concert, five years since his last outing in the UK.

After an hour or so, I eventually made it through the security checks, headed straight to the bar, and ordered a beer. The beer was warm, but to be honest, I couldn't care less. I was one of the early birds and there seemed to be a bit of room so I took a walk round to find the best viewing spot - the die hards were already twenty deep at the stage so I figured I'd give that a miss.

While chatting with other fans, a guy from Wales and another from Austria, and a couple from Northampton or Nottingham, the stalls filled to capacity, so I was spending the evening a few feet from the main bar. Not a real hardship - it was easier to get my third beer, while being mistaken for Frank Lampard!

It's just after 8pm and then the lights dimmed. The girls in the audience screamed and wooed, and as Elio Pace played a short piano solo, the other band members took their familiar positions on the stage. Howard Tibble hit the drums and we were rockin'. Shaky strolled out to the mike, smart suit, casual shirt, with his arms raised and a smile on his face, appreciating the adoring support from his faithful. He launches into a Fats Domino number: "Well I'm ready, I'm willin' and I'm able to rock'n'roll all night". Is Shaky telling us he's back for a while?

Undoubtedly the UK's most famous rock'n'roller since the sixties, Shakin' Stevens still has what it takes. His voice is clear and there's a noticeable moody snarl. He can still move, maybe not as much, but enough to have the ladies almost in tears! If he smiles at them...well...I'll say no more. Before the break we are treated to I Ain't Never, Marie Marie/Oh Julie, Don't Lie To Me and many others which I can't remember - but I sang them all! Did he do You Drive Me Crazy before or after the beer break?

During the break, I bought two beers which might have been five and six. It's thirsty work singing and dancing.

The highlights were hearing album tracks live for the first time, and Shaky's blistering opener after the interval, This Ole House. The whole of Shepherds Bush must have been rockin' with Shaky by now. He thrilled us with, Ain't That A Shame, Rockin' The Night Away, It's late, With My Heart among many other hits and classics. I asked this cool dude next to me if he was here as a guest or a fan. He said as a guest, but quickly becoming a fan! Shaky closed with So Long Baby Goodbye and before you knew it, the drums were being dismantled.

By now I needed another drink, so I had to go next door to the Walkabout bar for a quick pint, where I met a couple of Shakin' Stevens fans from Wrexham (Shakin'Box) who I chatted with for half an hour or so before getting the tube back to Wimbledon.

What a night, ooh what a night it was, really was such a night......

Other songs on the set: Turning Away, Give Me Your Heart Tonight, You Never Talked About Me, I'll Be Satisfied, Baby It's You, It's Raining, Don't Tell Me We're Through, Lipstick Powder and Paint, Hot Dog.........

Joe D