In an era of tribute acts, cover bands and singing impersonators, Peter Noone is a real, flesh and blood, walking-talking Swinging Sixties’ rock star.
Noone used to go drinking with John Lennon, shared a stage with the Rolling Stones and had a couple of guys from Led Zeppelin playing on his records. During the mid-Sixties, Noone and Herman’s Hermits added musical spice to the English invasion with a score of Top-10 hits.
This is 2019, but somehow, Noone not only laughs at Father Time, he defies age. The guy on stage at a packed Savannah Center on Friday was jumping and jiving all night long. He still has the long flowing blond locks and blue eyes. He held up an album cover picture of himself during the sixties, but the 2019 version of Noone looks just as good.
The stage wasn’t big enough for Noone. He spent a couple of songs racing through the audience, flirting with women, goofing with guys and just generally acting like a testosterone-fueled 71-year old adolescent.
The lead singer of Herman’s Hermits gave the Villagers what they wanted: golden hits like “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter,” “Dandy,” “I’m Into Something Good” and “Listen People.”
But there was something more than nostalgia going on here – it’s called personality. Noone, who was trained in theater, knows how to sing a song, but more importantly, put on a show. It’s an old, English-music hall tradition. Noone used comedy, conversation and unpredictable antics to keep the audience rollicking and rolling throughout the show.
Every year, Noone makes a pilgrimage to The Villages, thanks to Rocky and the Rollers, who promoted the show.
I’ve worked with Peter for 40 years,” Gerry “Rocky” Seader said after the band’s opening set. “People here love him.”
Noone shares that affection, and both of his Friday shows were packed.
“Ah, The Villages – my favorite place to play,” Noone said early on. “What a fantastic looking bunch of people. I was expecting a bunch of old people.”
Noone joked about roundabouts, saying, “I’m used to them. We’ve got them in England.”
His resemblance to a famous actor: “People call me Nick Nolte.”
Country music: “A lot of people from Ocala are here; and they want country music.” Noone and his talented musical sidekicks then lit into a Johnny Cash-sounding “Ring of Fire.”
Then came a pitch for CDs. “We didn’t bring them to The Villages. We brought 8-tracks and cassettes, with some 78 records.”
Noone and his tight band showed their versatility. In addition to such Hermits’ standards as “Wonderful World,” “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat” and “Silhouettes,” they played vintage rockers like “Sea Cruise” and “Love Potion Number 9.”
“How about a Monkees’ song?” Noone asked the crowd, who responded with loud cheers. He then sounded like Davy Jones of the Monkees with a wistful “Daydream Believer.”
Noone then did his imitation of Mick Jagger on “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” The old Stone has got nothing on Herman. Back in the ‘60s, the Hermits and Stones shared a concert stage.
Another name to drop is Led Zeppelin. Two members of the famed band – Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones – played in the studio on Herman’s Hermits’ records.
Next up, the Beatles. Noone likes to tell the story of how John Lennon got him drinks at a bar, even though Noone was too young to be served.
During the concert, Noone broke out in a raucous version of “All My Loving.” He darted off the stage and was doing laps around the rows of seats at Savannah Center.
After a few chats with fans, Noone made his way to the upper level seats and stood on the steps singing “Just A Little Bit Better.”
He made it back to center stage for a soft and tender version of “Listen People.” Noone brought back the English music hall ethos with a cockney-sounding “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter.”
The crowd was as inspired as the singer on a thumping sing-along to “I’m Henry VIII, I Am.” The house lights went up then went down. But the energy level – on and off the stage – was simmering all night long, thanks to an ageless rocker from the distant past named Peter Noone.
Tony Violanti is a veteran journalist and writes for Villages-News.com.