The Troggs

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Inside The Troggs dressing room at The Albert Hall, London. Captured moments before they go on stage to perform their last show of "The Spencer Davis Group, The Yardbirds & The Troggs In Concert" Tour. (From left to right) Chris Britton, Colin & Reg Presley.

 


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Pete Lucas, Reg Presley and Chris Britton search for Dave Maggs at The Royal Albert Hall. They won't find him out there! He's behind you lads! Or are they trying to see their audience who are applauding wildly after their opening song "Give It To Me"?

Colin conducts the Strings on 10 Apr 02 at The Royal Albert Hall, London. If you look closely you will just be able to make out (from left to right) Reg Presley, Chris Britton, Pete Lucas, Dave Maggs and Colin Frechter. Oh yes you can!

 

Checking the tuning are Colin Frechter (holding the tuner), Chris Britton (holding his guitar) and Katriona Guilhaumaud. Chris borrowed the electronic tuner from Spencer Davis. Thank you Spencer.

The Troggs String Players at The Royal Albert Hall. Katriona Guilhaumaud (violin), Sarah Burrell (viola), Felicity Corrie (chello) and Sarah Pateman (chello). Look, Colin was allowed in their dressing room !

 

The Girls from Knebworth, Herts outside their dressing room, shortly before getting ready for their performance.

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A Day Working With The Troggs at The Royal Albert Hall

In January 2002, Reg Presley had telephoned requesting, in his broad Andover accent, that for the last day of the UK tour he wanted something extra special. His request resulted in a day to remember.

Reg wanted to perform two tracks live, "like we did in the studio, when we made the original tracks, with pretty 'dolly bird' string players." Reg wanted string players to play on two of his original hit recordings, "Anyway You Want Me" and "Love Is All Around" - the later being a multi million selling hit all over again when covered by Wet Wet Wet in 1994.

The final concert of "The Yardbirds, The Troggs and The Spencer Davis Group In Concert" tour was on Wednesday, 10th April 2002 at the Albert Hall, London. Colin Frechter and myself had until then to find four string players. The line up was easy to arrange, we needed a violinist, a viola player and two chellists.

The parts (scores) were already written out, and just needed to be found from one of the desk drawers at the Coda Recording office. Now we needed to find the requested 'dolly birds'.

It was felt that this was going to be a good opportunity to include local musicians, if we possibly could. Where would we find them was now our main priority. This actually proved easier to achieve than first thought. I visited an acquaintance, manager of Hatfield Travel in Hatfield Town Centre, Byron Guilhaumaud. Both Colin and myself had worked with guitarist / vocalist / songwriter Byron in a concert at the now demolished Hatfield Forum. (Ah, maybe that was the reason why the building was knocked down!). My visit proved successful, his violinist daughter, who plays in both the North Herts Youth Jazz Orchestra and the Hertfordshire Schools Symphony Orchestra, would be keen to provide the backing we needed. She also had three friends who could assist her, who were also good 'readers'. We had found our string players; Katriona Guilhaumaud (violin), Sarah Burrell (viola), Felicity Corrie (chello) and Sarah Pateman (chello), all local girls from Knebworth.

Colin and myself drove down to the Albert Hall on that special Wednesday. Parking, which is normally a problem in that part of Central London, was solved with the help from Caroline Cronin, a fine Irish singer that we had made an album with earlier that year. Her husband, Mickey, owns the garage Emerald Motors, which is just around the corner from the Albert Hall - the perfect place to park.

Carrying the musical scores we walked up to the Albert Hall and received our stage passes at the stage door office. Going down the stairs, and walking along the corridor we found 'The Troggs' dressing room. A few hundred yards along the corridor were the two dressing rooms assigned to the 'MD/Conductor' and to the 'Female String Players' (see photos above).

After familiarizing ourselves with the building I went and sat at the side of the stage and listened to The Yardbirds as they went through their sound check. The band started "For Your Love" and stopped after a few bars while the sound engineers adjusted the volumes of the microphones around the drums. Sadly I didn't get time to hear more of this fine band, as The String Players had arrived. We showed them to their dressing room, where they left all their instruments and stage costumes. It was wonderful to see how excited the girls were.

Reg Presley, Chris Britton, Pete Lucas and Dave Knaggs had now all arrived in time for their 11 am sound check. The first song to be checked for sound was "Anyway You Want Me". The girls took their seats to the right of the stage (see pic above). Drummer Dave counted the first song in using his drum sticks 1-2-3-4. The song begun with just the chellos, guitars and drums. After sixteen bars the violin and viola beautifully flooded into the mix. After one verse the song was stopped. The strings were too quiet in the mix and the stringed instrument microphones were picking up the guitars. It was decided that to rememdy the problem the guitar amplifiers needed to be turned down. Chris and Pete duly obliged. Now the string players mics could be turned up.

The Troggs with the strings sounded incredible. Chris Britton said later that it brought tears to his eyes as he heard the strings 'lifting' the song that he had performed each day of the tour with just guitars and drums. Dave Knaggs later commented in the artists bar, "It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up" when he heard the strings. The girls played wonderfully, the only fault, one of the chellos was occasionally slightly out of tune. With the sound now almost perfect, The Troggs then went straight into "Love Is All Around". Reg's voice sounded wonderful, the guitars were solid, the drums tight and powerful and the strings blended in beautifully. With just one run through of "Love Is All Around", the sound check was concluded. It was going to be a wonderful concert.

Last up for their sound check were The Spencer Davis Group. We all went back to our dressing rooms. As it was time for lunch, the girls, who had their parents with them, decided to go for a burger type meal. Colin and myself joined Reg and Dave in the Artists Bar (see pic on next page). While we enjoyed a coffee together, Reg bravely took a frozen meal from the freezer, fish, chips and peas. He heated it in the microwave until it was piping hot. With us all looking on, we awaited Reg's verdict on this food. Even John Idan from The Yardbirds was considering trying it, and came over to see Reg testing the meal. After just a few mouthfuls of this meal Reg gave us his opinion, "How can anybody eat this?" he exclaimed. No one else dared to try it.

After catching up on each other's activities since we had last met, Colin and myself went back up the road to join Caroline Cronin and Mickey for lunch at the garage. Our lunch was prepared by the Queen's Gate Mews pub and we enjoyed it seated on camp chairs in the garage, with a nice half pint to wash it down (see pic on Caroline Cronin page).

Returning back to the Royal Albert Hall, we spent the rest of the afternoon with "The Troggs". Late in that afternoon Reg started to explain to us about his recently released book. His theories regarding 'crop circles' and other mysteries of life were fascinating, but, the others who had obviously heard it before, one by one they took their leave. Reg is currently turning the book into a film. He has promised to invite Colin and myself to see the film when it is finished. Hopefully he will want the soundtrack recorded by "Coda". We'll have to wait and see.

The afternoon soon turns into evening, and slowly the audience begins to arrive. The show is opened by an excellent set by The Yardbirds. As they are playing we check that the girls are ready and assist in making sure that their instruments are all in tune. Chris Britton joins us in the girls dressing room. As his tuner is on stage we find Spencer Davis, who kindly loans us his tuner. (see pic above). Now everyone is ready. Returning to The Troggs dressing room, I took a commemorative photograph of Reg, Chris and Colin, the remaining original group members with their musical director (see pic above). Now it is time for them to perform their final show of the tour, with that extra treat for the audience - the strings.

The first act that evening was The Yardbirds. They had opened their performance with the hit "Shapes Of Things", included "Heart Full Of Soul" and closed their set with the blues standard "I'm A Man" to tumultuous applause.

Now was the turn of The Troggs. In order to take photographs Byron Guilhaumaud and myself discretely found places between the seated audience while the stage lights were dimmed, and waited crouched down with our cameras at the ready. In the blackness Reg, Chris, Pete and Dave took their places on stage. As the stage lights came up they burst into their 1967 hit "Give It To Me" (see pic above). Reg's vocals were stunning and, the group's balance was spot on, with every instrument being clearly heard. The live version of the song was exactly as the recorded version, but, it had real power. The Troggs live were sensational! Thirty six years after the songs were first recorded here they were, still being performed and sounding as fresh as the day they were written. The conclusion of the song was greeted with raptuous applause. The next song was a live favourite from 60's concerts "Back Home". This was followed by album tracks "Strange Kind Of Woman" and "Strange Movies". Now it was time for the girls to leave the back of the stage area and come on stage.

Reg now took the opportunity to talk to the audience. He humorously talked about himself and The Troggs' beginnings in Andover. He mentioned many groups from the sixties whose influence had spread throughout the world. "The Beatles", he said, "had producer George Martin. In the studio we had our own 'George Martin - Colin Frechter! Please welcome Colin and his orchestra!" On Colin came, nicely dressed in a smart black dinner suit, black shirt and bow tie, follow by Katriona, Sarah B, Felicity and Sarah P, all dressed in smart black trousers and tops. Their entrance was greeted by polite applause. The girls took their seats and readied themselves. This was what we had worked for. Would the girls' nerves spoil their performance or would they play faultlessly? Now we would be able to find the answer to those questions.

As in the sound check, drummer Dave counted the song in with his drum sticks held high above his head. At the same time Colin counted in the girls with his conductor's batton. 1-2-3-4. The song sounded out of this world. It sounded wonderful during the sound check, but now it was simply breath-taking! With the added strings Reg, Chris, Pete and Dave were visibly moved on stage. It was a wonderful, moving performance; greeted on it's conclusion with applause that almost lifted the roof. Many in the audience stood up to show their appreciation.

Reg waited for the applause to die down before explaining, "We would now like to play a song that I wrote back in 1967. This song was recently a number one hit for Wet Wet Wet for an incredible fifteen weeks in 1994 - It's called "Love Is All Around"".

The guitars started the song 'D' - 'G' - 'D' - 'A'. Twelve bars into the song the violin and viola begun to play the beautiful counter melody, written by Colin in 1967 at his home in Barnet. Four bars later the chellos joined in, lifting the song to a crescendo. As the song ended, this time almost the whole audience stood on their feet applauding wildly. The girls had done it! It had been an incredible performance by them! With their moment of glory over they left the stage with words of praise and thanks from Reg Presley.

The Troggs finished their program with their other hits, "With A Girl Like You" and "Wild Thing". The audience would not let them go, so they played an encore; "Can't Control Myself". It had been an awesome set by the group often described as the first 'punk band'.

During the intermission, the Troggs went to the theatre foyer and signed copies of their new CD. This live recording is only available at live performances.

After the break the Spencer Davis Group took to the stage. I stood and enjoyed the group's set standing at the back of the stage with members of the Yardbirds, occasionally talking to John Idan, Chris Dreja and Jim McCarty.

The Spencer Davis Group performed, along with other blues standards, their hits "Keep On Running", "When I Come Home", Somebody Help Me", "I'm A Man" and "Gimme Some Lovin'" (the song that had been used so effectively in the Blues Brothers film).

After the show the girls, met up with their parents and returned home, while Colin and myself went to the private hall at the very top of the Albert Hall to enjoy the after show party. Many well known professionals were also there. Justin Hayward from the Moody Blues, Keith Altham from the "New Musical Express" newspaper plus many others.

Yes, it had been a day to remember!

Dave Barber

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