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Imploding Small Faces rock the house


All or nothing, Belgrade Theatre, May 4-6

In the West, Pete Townshend was writing about the ace faces he spotted among London Mods, in the East, Steve Marriott was one of those faces.

This enjoyable romp through the early life of Marriott and the band is directed by Carol Harrison, based on her own book.

The story is narrated by Marriott’s deceased older self, played with suitable cheeky chappiness by Chris Simmons.

The band doesn’t bear particular physical resemblance to the originals but they certainly sound authentic. Musically the young Steve, Samuel Pope struts with the same self-confidence and nails the Chuck Berry hop and the one legged kick perfectly.

In the “dramatic” scenes he is less surefooted, more Rodney Trotter especially when interacting with his Barbara Windsor-ish mother, played by the author.

Indeed there is a touch of the Lionel Bart’s (not rhyming slang) about the storyline. Marriott auditions for Oliver and the post war set with its posters, graffiti and corrugated iron could be from Fings Ain’t What they Used To Be with additional pop- cultural references.

The whole cockney shtick is given a good outing whilst The North is suitably parodied with headscarves and Hovis music when the band tour there and are kicked out of the working men’s club.

The period in terms of fashion, hair, make up and dance is accurately presented, from Juke Box Jury through Cathy McGowen on Ready Steady Go to the podium dancers on Top of the Pops.

When Josh Maddison’s Hammond organ winds up for Whatcha Gonna Do About It, you know you are in safe hands.

He, together with Stanton Wright and Stefan Edwards and Pope are to be congratulated in their seamless transitions from knockabout humour to note perfect performance. Even Chris Simmons gets to join in and duet with his younger self.

The struggle for the band to be taken seriously for their R&B roots against their teeny bop stardom is covered as are the management debacles with Don Arden and Andrew Oldham. The arc from success through drugs to breakup is well delivered . Name-checks for Rene, Mad John and Mrs Jones and her lumbago are typical of Juke Box Musicals but there are some very funny lines, especially from the supporting cast with Daniel Beales and Russell Floyd showing particularly good timing.

The show ends with a knees-up of genuine enthusiasm from the ensemble cast and the lads from the All or Nothing Scooter Club down at the front were on their feet immediately.

Standout moment: when a gleaming Lambretta roars onto stage, much appreciated by the ex-Mods in the audience.

Standout song: Afterglow seguing into Tin Soldier with the first appearance Melissa Brown-Taylor’s PP Arnold.

As I reflected on a great night’s entertainment and the opening riff from Itchycoo Park re- played in my mind I heard the roar of Vespas through Belgrade Plaza as the scooter boys headed happily home.

Winner!