Searching for an Ararat audience

ARARAT - Liverpool's legendary music group which contributed enormously to the British music industry, with record sales well in excess of $40 million, is bringing its talent to Ararat for the very first time.

The Searchers will front up to the Ararat Performing Arts Centre for one concert only on Thursday, March 6 at 8pm.

Original members John McNally and Frank Allen will be joined on stage by singer Spencer James and Scott Ottaway.

"We love going to new places, and as Ararat will be a new venue we hope to be able to find some new success, we're really looking forward to seeing what it's like," Elder statesman Frank Allen said.

When The Beatles first took the world by storm in the 1960s, the way was suddenly open for every other guitar twanging group to grab their chance and The Searchers, in a move that was both enterprising and precocious, took matters into their own hands by recording their own demonstration album.

'When you walk in the room', Mr Allen's first single, proved to be one of their strongest and most enduring of hits.

When the hits finally failed The Searchers entered a period of hard work on the cabaret circuit which proved to be good training for a career that, although they had no idea at the time, would last for more than four decades.

Mr McNally and Mr Allen have witnessed a lot of change since they first performed to an Australian audience in 1964.

"We had to learn to transform from being young teenage idols where we had girls screaming at us to different areas of music, more predominantly concerts," he said.

"This required we change our way of thinking and learn how to approach a mature audience because as we grew up we became less popular with the younger audience.

"It became more than just about on stage and performing a bunch of songs but putting together a show that gave people a whole different form of satisfaction."

They learned how to put together a professional presentation with light and shade and with changes of pace that would keep an audience enthralled for an hour and more.

Mr Allen said the group's 'clean living', shunning the wild lifestyle that consumed a lot of 1960s' era musicians has helped he and Mr McNally physically sustain such a busy schedule into their 70s.

"I always wanted to play music, I thought about making a living out of it, I didn't imagine it could actually happen," he said.

"I mean I should have retired five years ago, but both John (McNally) and I don't feel our ages because love what we do.

"How many people are there out there lucky enough to be still enjoying their job while at the same time get an applause, paid handsomely and travel the world?

"A career that has lasted this long is not an exercise in survival. It is really about doing what you love and being a part of something you have pride in."

Concert goers are promised more than just a trip down memory lane with anecdotes and stories to detail a progression of 50 years in the business.

"People will feel a lot of nostalgia, we try to fit a lot of history into the two hours we are on stage," he said.

"We also try to communicate a lot between songs, interact with the audience because we want people to go home that night feeling like they've been in the company of good friends."

Spencer James, the one time vocalist with First Class who had charted with Beach Baby in the eighties, was a breath of fresh air and has remained a familiar face among the foursome for 28 years.

The most recent addition to The Searchers is Scott Ottaway who hails from Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire.

Tickets for the March 6 show are $49 each, to book please phone 5352 2181 or go to www.trybooking.com

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