As a genre of live music, tribute bands have been in the public eye for around 3 decades now, most noticeably kicking off in the late 80’s with acts like Bjorn Again – the ABBA tribute, then followed by others such as The Australian Doors, and the Australian Pink Floyd etc. Before you knew it, there suddenly seemed to be a tribute act to every famous & successful artiste or band. Then the prospect of coming up with something new to grab the public’s attention becomes so much more elusive, yet, Kevin Jager came up with the idea of doing a 10cc tribute, which in itself was a refreshing concept.
A superb band, many chart hit singles, and some damn catchy tunes. But to do a full show of just 10cc’s music would obviously mean including several album tracks, and music that a general audience might not be that familiar with. So after a rethink, the new concept was put together of splitting the quota of music with another famous British band, ELO. Thus the creation of 10ccLO, a band performing both the music of 10cc & ELO. No filler songs required to pad out the set, now simply hit after hit after hit.
The group consist of 4 core members who have been performing together since early 2000, with bands such as Prognosis, and the embryonic 10cc tribute Rubber Bullets, which has now grown and expanded into 10ccLO. They are Kevin Jager (band creator, drums & occasional lead vocals), John Lewis (keyboards & musical director), Paul Boydell (guitar and backing vocals), and Roy Clinton (bass guitar and backing vocals) and now joined by Shaun Henderson (lead vocals & 2nd guitar) and Nicholas Lawrance (violin & electronic percussion).
Together as 6 musicians with the combined strength of 5 vocals, they make a marvellously huge and sumptuous sound. As you can imagine, to recreate the music for those iconic songs is no mean feat. Although both original bands were highly influenced by the Beatles, these songs’ constructions &, layers are far more complex overall. Thus requiring quite a high level of performance to pull them off to a similar standard and as such, the members of 10ccLO do a remarkable job.
There is a bare minimum of backing tracks used very subtly to fill out the huge studio production sounds of those popular acts, yet the vast majority of what your hear at one of the band’s shows is indeed all created live on the night. The only real proof of whether it works is “do they sound like ELO and 10cc?”, and the answer to that is a resounding YES! I finally caught up with the band in a proper theatre setting at the Customs House in South Shields. A well-established South Tyneside venue, which hosts numerous nostalgia acts, tribute bands, and even comedians including local legend Sarah Millican.
With the band selling over 200 tickets, it was a very decent and respectable turnout for a fairly new group, and more-so with it also being their first ever time at this particular venue. It was a lovely summer’s evening, so being indoors might seem a crime, but as the lights dimmed and the intro music and large screen projection started, I could not think of a better place to be. Fabulous music by 2 revered ground-breaking British bands, getting played in my home town. A great night’s entertainment guaranteed.
The band took the stage as their intro music played, making their way on to the dimly lit stage, where the main attention was focused on their projection screen and the wonderful images & animation that appeared upon it. Then suddenly the stage lit up as the band played their opening chords, and the show officially started with ELO’s ‘All Over the World’. Even after the very first song, the applause and cheers were strong & loud. A great start which continued throughout the course of this 2-hour plus show. As Shaun, the lead singer told the crowd, “You’re never more than 2 songs away from your favourite band”. Essentially meaning that they never play any more than two songs back to back by either 10cc or ELO. So rather that split the show into a half by each original act, they simply mix it all up, and it works superbly well.
The advantage of combining the music of both bands is that all of the songs were instantly familiar. All of them chart hits, played on the radio, and highly recognisable from their opening notes. You don’t have to be a huge fan of 10cc or ELO to enjoy this show. Not only is the music good, but you would have had to be a hermit throughout the 70’s and early 80’s to not know these tunes. All of these songs covered during the course of this show were Top 20 hits. I could list them all, but rather than do that, just think of ‘greatest hits’ compilation CDs, and the music played this evening would have been straight from a best of ELO, and best of 10cc. So there was no self-indulgence with obscure album tracks & b-sides. It was simply “all killer and no filler”.
The sound for this show was provided by Ash from FX Productions, and he did a very good job. A lovely balance, all vocals clear & prominent, and just enough overall volume to command an audience’s attention without it becoming overbearing. The band played excellently, with lots of attention to detail so that songs were recreated with genuine accuracy & authenticity. Fine musicianship, tonally good sounds from their equipment on stage, rounded off with some amazing vocal harmonies, which at numerous times had 5 members singing together.
The vast majority of lead vocals were supplied effortlessly by Shaun Henderson, yet for 3 songs we saw drummer Kev come to the front of the stage and take on the lead vocal duties. Most notably on the epic ‘I’m Not in Love’, and providing some stunning falsetto vocals to ‘Donna’. The first half of the show had plenty of fabulous song inclusions, and was certainly not a weaker set by any means. But the second half probably was more up-tempo, and after an interval and a few more drinks consumed by the audience, then the 2nd part of the show definitely saw the crowd in a more buoyant mood with several dancers suddenly moving out of their seats and into the aisles. Songs like ‘Rubber Bullets’, ‘Turn To Stone’ and ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’ even had people bopping in their seats.
There was lovely atmosphere in the room, people genuinely having a great time, and the band got a fabulous reception through-out the evening. The entire production worked really well in a theatre environment, ideally suited for this style of venue & crowd. Special mention must go out to the band for incorporating the use of screen projections. This not only looked very impressive as the images and animation were perfectly synched up to the band’s music, but it also helped to enhance the show rather than be a distraction. A well thought-out addition to their performance, and you could see that some time & effort had been put into all the accompanying on-stage videos. Also noteworthy was the inclusion of Nick on violin, for putting the ‘O’ (orchestra) into ELO. His live string sounds gave the band that extra authenticity on all of the ELO songs, as well him playing lots of electronic percussion during the 10cc tunes as well.
Lastly, I must mention the bands front man, Shaun, whose banter and ad-libs kept the audience amused in between songs. A very likeable character whom you warm to instantly. My only possible complaint is that I wish that the show could have been longer, ha-ha. At over 2 hours, there was plenty of material played, so realistically they certainly did more than enough. Yet from a totally selfish personal point of view, I would have loved to have heard a little more early ELO, with perhaps the inclusion of ‘Rockaria’ or ‘Mama Belle’ (hint-hint, lol). I suppose with such a huge back catalogue to choose from, then there is always the opportunities for some songs to be moved around and still remain all hits. Therefore, I could imagine this show further evolving over time, and not be limited in its development. Yet what the band did on this night was very satisfying and highly entertaining. An excellent mixture, with equal attention being paid to the music of both original bands.
So for my final thoughts on 10ccLO, they are a fantastic band, and you are guaranteed a marvellous evening in their company. Top quality production (both sound & visuals), fine musicianship, and a set-list that will put a smile on your face and get your feet tapping. However, don’t just take my word for it. Go and experience them in person. Unless you are an ELO or 10cc ‘hater’, then you cannot help but enjoy yourself. You get everything you would expect from a ‘theatre’ quality act, and they are truly superb entertainment. Hats off to everyone involved with this event, and to all those that came along and supported the band. In addition, to those that haven’t managed to catch up with them yet, check out their gig guide and make a booking to see them in action. You will not be disappointed.
Colin Smoult – June 2018