Noone, the popular 60s British Invasion band's lead singer and sole remaining founding member, still maintains a brisk touring schedule in Canada and the U.S. along with hosting a hit weekly radio show called "Something Good with Peter Noone," which airs Saturdays on Sirius XM.
The former teen idol, who officially become an old age pensioner at 65-years-old last year, still appeared fit and svelte, sporting a grey jacket with black pants and shirt as he entered the stage promptly at 8 p.m. to the opening strains of The Hermits’ 1964 breakout hit “I’m into Something Good," which segued into their 1965 Sam Cooke-penned hit "Wonderful World."
Though the setlist had only a couple of revisions from his last Winnipeg visit in 2012, the staying power of the show resides as much in Noone's (a.k.a. "Herman) stage charisma, energy and sense of humor as it does on The Hermits' formidable back catalogue of hits.
Noone greeted the fans with his usual wry wit, "Back in the 60s, I remember telling my friend John Lennon how I wanted to be No. 1 Canada and play 'MacPhillips Station," deliberately getting the casino name wrong.
Herman's Hermits were so massively popular in the mid-sixties, on their first visit to Winnipeg in August 1967, they played the old Winnipeg Arena (which Noone astutely observed had since been torn down) and had British rock legends The Who as their warm up act.
The Manchester, England natives penchant for needling his audience was balanced by his eye for detail, showing a canny ability to namecheck local streets, nightspots, nearby towns and Canadian institutions from Tim Hortons to curling in the course of his stories and jokes.
Familiar comedy bits, such as his deadly send-up of "my dad," Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, received new spins, including a fresh set-up to the parody and a different Stones' cover song, "Jumping Jack Flash."
Noone's ability to imitate the stage and vocal idiosyncrasies of other singers is formidable and he occassionally sprinkles his set list with well-performed British Invasion classics, which to the younger untrained ear could easily be passed-off for Hermits hits.
Cover highlights included the newly added spot-on rendering of Gerry and The Pacemaker's 1964 ode to Liverpool "Ferry Cross the Mersey."
Of course, the babyboomers, who dominated the audience, came to hear the beloved hits and Noone delivered all the biggies, leading his current line up of Hermits through classics such as “Dandy,” “Silhouettes,” “A Must Avoid,” “No Milk Today” “End of the World," "Listen People" and "Mrs. Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter."
Though he's played the songs thousands of times, Noone continues to bring great energy, freshness and enthusiasm to the numbers, aided by his current line up of Hermits: Billy Sullivan, and Vance Brescia (lead guitars), Rich Spina (keyboads/bass) and Dave Ferrara (drums). The line-up has remained stable for some years, and is an integral part of the show, whether maintaining the lighthearted spirit and authentic sound of the original Hermits or showing off individual musical prowess such as on Sullivan's scorching lead guitar intro on the fan requested "Jezebel,” a track from The Hermit's 1967 studio album “There’s a Kind of Hush.”
In the homestretch , Noone wound up the night with the tried and true, hitting the crowd with the one-two punch of The Hermit’s 1964 hit “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat,” followed by his mega-popular 1965 smash “I’m Henry the XIII, I Am,” and 1967 hit ballad, “There’s a Kind of Hush" before exiting for a "free" meet and greet with fans, shaking hands with all the tables along the way - leaving little doubt as to the reason for the band's continued popularity fifty years down the pike.
Herman's Hermits next Canadian stop is a two-night stand Sept. 13 and Sept. 14 in Edmonton, AB at Century Casino.