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Liverpool's Other Greatest Export

Liverpool's Other Greatest Export

Who: Gerry and the Pacemakers
Where: Newcastle Panthers
When: Friday May 29, 1998

THERE is only one export from Liverpool more famous than THE BEATLES and has had a shelf life of almost 40 years. It is GERRY & THE PACEMAKERS, performing at the Newcastle Workers Club on Friday, May 29, but there's not a mop top, motor scooter or a Rickenbacker guitar in sight.

These days GERRY MARSDEN prefers to be in bed at a reasonable hour, unlike the all-night jams his band used to undergo with The Beatles in Hamburg in the 1960s. The only other difference is that Marsden is now backed by a younger set of Pacemaker players. What has not changed is the timeless Pacemakers set filled with anthems such as YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE, FERRY 'CROSS THE MERSEY, HOW DO YOU DO IT, I LIKE IT, I'M THE ONE and IT'S GONNA BE ALRIGHT.

Suggest to Marsden that he is riding a nostalgia craze and the foundation member will set you straight. 'We've never stopped really,' he said. 'The only time I stopped touring was when I went to the West End of London when the group split up in 68, and I was there until 72.'

One of the first ports of call for the reformed Pacemakers was Australia in the same year, and he hasn't stopped since. 'I've been lucky really,' he said. 'The music of the sixties is around, and people listen to it, and it's good fun.' Marsden's signature tune, FERRY 'CROSS THE MERSEY, has been adopted by his hometown of Liverpool where he shared the same manager as The Beatles, BRIAN EPSTEIN.

'Ferry', YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE (adopted by his home soccer team) and I LIKE IT, were all consecutive number one songs on the British charts in the mid 1960s. Ironically the only other artist to have consecutive number ones was another group from Liverpool, FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD, 20 years later. And even Franky's disco pop single RELAX featured a Pacemakers cover version, FERRY 'CROSS THE MERSEY, as a B-side. 'I let him do it because he's a Liverpool man, so I didn't shout at him,' Marsden joked.

Proud of his 'great musical city', home of the Mersey Beat, Marsden is satisfied touring the world on the strength of historical contribution to popular music. 'All I want to do is what I'm already doing, which is to tour,' he said. 'I'm not really interested in making new records aimed at the charts. 'When I do records it's just for me or for people who come to the shows, and the songs they like.' Chart success was 'great fun', but now Marsden prefers doing live concerts.

Even though he has a passion for live performances Marsden would never again contemplate the marathon Hamburg sets. 'In Hamburg we'd go straight from 7pm through to 2am, with a 15-minute break every hour, and that was hard work, but we were young and we were fit, we could do it,' he said. 'But I wouldn't do it now, that's a bloody dead set!'

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