Roy Hill Live!

Cry No More at the Turks Head, Twickenham

23 December 2006

Roy tries to blag his way through another memory lapse!Roy goes on a walkabout in the middle of the gig.Roy and Chas deep in concentration, for once.

Turkey, mince pies, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, the final Cry No More reunion gig of all time – each a Christmas tradition that we know and love and the 2006 version of the latter left no-one disappointed. The Cry No More formula for success is straightforward – excellent musicianship, a cupboard full of quirky, catchy songs, enough ad-libbing to fill Santa’s sack, guaranteed audience participation, all meshed together with the wit and repartee of Roy Hill and his fellow minstrel Chas Cronk. It doesn’t get much better than this, and all for a tenner, at The Turks Head in Twickenham.

So what did we get for our money? The first of the two sets was an hour long, consisting of ten kosher songs, half a dozen recognisable ad-libs, a Bob Dylan impersonation and a rousing version of Falling to take us into the break. Roy kicked off with his nefarious Sheep adventures and swept into his back-catalogue with Piccadilly Lights, recalling his solo days of the late ‘70s. Stories of Roy’s childhood and a letters section served as a breather between the rest of the musical gems on offer including one of my personal favourites, Don’t Leave Me Here, a slow version of Boy and that stirring rendition of Falling. The set-list (ad-libs in brackets): (Sheep/Tinkerbell); Piccadilly Lights; (Diggidy Dog); Keep Away From Me; (childhood/Bob Dylan); Just Too Late; Jenny Takes A First Look At Life; Don’t Leave Me Here; Man Overboard; (letters); Taller of The Two; Boy; Every Single Time; Falling.

The Turks Head crowd, old hands at these reunion events, really got into full voice for the second half of the show. Barber Jim began the set with Roy relying on the audience for the words to the first song, On Holiday. They followed it up with FASHION and a sackful of other CNM choice cuts with Steve Whalley joining them on stage for George’s Bar. Templar and Wooden Heart brought the gig to a close and the crowd to its feet – aside from those that were already dancing – before Roy & Chas returned for an encore of the Robin Song and I Like I Like I Like – a total playing time of 2 hours 20 minutes. Fantastic entertainment, and well worth the 200+ mile round trip. The set-list: (Barber Jim); On Holiday; FASHION; Trashy Doll; I Love Roxy; Cry No More; Lying In A Strangers Bed; (signed by EMI); Sleep; Forgotten Now; More; First Kiss; Caveman Rock; George’s Bar; (Life in Hollywood); Sixties Baby; Oh Sharon!, Templar, Wooden Heart. Encore: (Robin Song), I Like I Like I Like.

There’s talk of another get together in April or May 2007 to plug a DVD release and also some long-awaited Roy Hill solo gigs and CD releases from his extensive back-catalogue. Watch this space. It'll certainly be worth waiting for.

Cry No More at the Royal Oak, Hampton

30 December 2005

Chas Cronk (left) and Roy Hill on 'stage' at the Royal Oak 30/12/05.Roy belting out another cracker at the Royal Oak.

Pure magic, again!....and to call the Cry No More New Year Special at the Royal Oak a tight squeeze, is stating the blinkin' obvious. It was my first time at this intimate pub-venue and with the CNM legions jostling for elbow room with the pub's regulars, there was literally no room to swing a cat. However, if one had been handy, I'm sure Roy would've tried. There wasn't really anything that was taboo or off-limits at this particular gig. I wouldn't recommend a CNM knees-up to anyone of a sensitive disposition, but it's food and drink to the CNM faithful who'd packed out the Royal Oak and to yours truly.

Perched precariously on a 'stage' of beer crates, Roy, with Chas partially hidden by the PA, kicked off with his Sheep monologue, sweeping majestically into one of his earliest compositions, Piccadilly Lights before engaging the boisterous audience for the first time with Falling. Throughout the fifty minute opening set and the hour-long second set, the call and response rapport with the enlightened crowd, many of them old-timers from the Mulberry Tree Social Club choir, worked like clockwork and gave everyone an opportunity to join in the fun. This is what makes a CNM performance worth travelling 200 miles and a four-hour round trip for my wife and myself, and considerably longer for the two 'Mad' girls who'd travelled from Germany!

Amid calls to "get on with it", Roy and Chas belted out the following songs, with Roy's monologues in brackets: (Sheep), Piccadilly Lights, Falling, One Time, Jimmie & Johnnie, (Barber Jim), Without Eddie, Life in Hollywood, (Kent), On Holiday, Forgotten Now, Lying In A Strangers Bed, Keep Away From Me and then closed the first set with Pineapple Dream. After a 30-minute break, they returned with: I Like I Like I Like, (Mr All Forlorn, Dinner with Joan), Marion Jones, Look At Me Now, (Springsteen), I Love Roxy, Caveman Rock, Jenny Takes A First Look, Don't Leave Me Here, FASHION, More, First Kiss, Man Overboard, Sixties Baby before rounding off another classic CNM party with George's Bar, Mr Templar and Wooden Heart.

Great fun from two master troubadours aided and abetted by their loyal followers. I have to agree that it's a frustration that CNM gigs are like buses, none for ages then two come along at once, but hey, it really makes you look forward to the next getogether. I sincerely hope Christmas 2006 will see another reunion for Roy and Chas, though we only have to wait until 24 February for Roy's next appearance, at the Turks Head in Twickenham, where he'll be performing some of his most recent compositions alongwith his son Jamie. You'd be foolish to miss it [Note: unfortunately the February gig was cancelled as Roy was unwell].

Roy and Chas entertain the packed Royal Oak pub on 30//12/05.The set-list from the 2nd half of Cry No More's 30 Dec 2005 gig at the Royal Oak, Hampton. I wasn't quick enough to snatch the set-list from the opening set! [click to enlarge]

Cry No More at the Turks Head, Twickenham

17 December 2005

Roy Hill on stage at the Turks Head 17/12/05.Forget the music, let's chat! Roy during a monologue - it went on for a while!

Forget Christmas, the off the wall humour and singalong party atmosphere guaranteed by Roy Hill and Chas Cronk, aka Cry No More, is undoubtedly the highlight of every December. Their Turks Head reunion was no exception as nearly 150 noisy and boisterous souls crammed into Winchester Hall to play their part in making the night one to savour. I'm a relative newcomer to the CNM Xmas bonanza, joining the revelry last year for the first time, though I've been a Roy Hill aficionado for twenty-eight years - my wife calls it stalking! Boy, am I gutted that I've missed so much fun for so long. Nevertheless, it doesn't take long to get into the swing of a CNM knees-up and I challenge anyone not to join in heartily with every chorus.

Roy - once tagged 'perfect puberty bedroom-poster fodder for disillusioned David Essex disciples' - is the mouthpiece of CNM. He literally never shuts up, whether elucidating during one of his frequent monologues (Sheep, Barber Jim, Geese and Kent come readily to mind) or abusing the audience or his stoic and silent straight-man Chas. Its abundantly clear that most of the crowd are long-time CNM followers - they know what to sing and when to heckle and with Roy feeding off that chemistry, and vice versa, it makes for great entertainment.

The evening's performance was in two halves. They kicked off a little after 9.30pm and in an hour they belted out Landslide, Taller of the Two, Every Single Time, Superheroes, Jenny Takes a First Look, On Holiday, Marion Jones, Caveman Rock, Keep Away From Me, Falling and Forgotten Now, intertwined with Roy's zany repartee. My wife was making her CNM debut and loved it. After a thirty-minute breather, Roy and Chas returned to regale us with More, Without Eddie, Lying in a Strangers Bed, One Time, Don't Leave Me Here, I Like I Like I Like, FASHION, Man Overboard, I Love Roxy, Sleep, First Kiss, Oh Sharon! and Sixties Baby, before a rousing finale of George's Bar, Mr Templar and Wooden Heart. For the last half dozen numbers, the area in front of the stage was awash with dancing revellers and CNM ended their set to thunderous applause and loud cheers.

Two hours of top notch fun and frivolity. The quality of Roy's vocals belied his malady and the high calibre of musicianship from both performers left everyone wanting more. The great news is that part-2 of the CNM Christmas Cracker will take place at the Royal Oak, Hampton on 30 December. I can't wait.

Chas Cronk (left) and Roy Hill in full flow at the Turks Head.The first-half set-list from the 17/12/05 Cry No More Christmas Cracker. {click to enlarge}The 2nd-half set-list from the 17/12/05 Cry No More Christmas Cracker. {click to enlarge}

{Above}: The set-list, in Roy's distinctive handwriting, from the Cry No More 'Christmas Cracker' at the Turks Head, Twickenham on 17 December 2005. As usual, Roy and Chas made it up as they went along and the running order changed throughout the performance! {click to enlarge}

Cry No More - Christmas Tour 2004

Here's a couple of photos from the 2004 Cry No More Christmas tour, well, two dates anyway, at the Turks Head, Twickenham on 18 December and at the Red Lion, Isleworth on 28 December. Great entertainment - and the perfect Christmas present from the duo to their devoted fans and friends. I had the pleasure of attending my first Cry No More gig - their 20th anniversary concert - at the Turks Head and I saw at first-hand, the exuberant party atmosphere they generate. The audience knew every word of every song, joined in loudly with every chorus and revelled in the bawdy and offbeat humour. Roy Hill and Chas Cronk (aka Cry No More) delved into the extensive Cry No More back-catalogue at will, including songs like First Kiss, Fashion, Don't Leave Me Here, I Love Roxy and Mr Templar, as well as three of Roy's compositions from the late 70's, George's Bar, I Like I Like I Like and Taller of The Two. They reconvened at the Red Lion three days after Christmas Day and gave another powerful and pleasurable performance, this time adding early Hill creations, Piccadilly Lights and She Sits Alone, for good measure. Roll on next Christmas!

Chas Cronk (left) and Roy Hill at the Turks Head, Twickenham on 18/12/04.Roy Hill entertains with one of his famous monologues, at the Red Lion, Isleworth on 28/12/04.

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