THE band Smokie found success at both home and abroad after teaming up with songwriters Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn in 1974 having previously recorded as The Yen, The Sphynx, Essence, The Black Cats, The Elizabethans and Kindness. They have had a number of line-up changes over the last 45 years and are still actively touring in 2018. Last week they appeared as one of the acts at the Grassington Festival in Upper Wharfedale.

The band’s current line up comprises Terry Uttley one of the original band members from the 70s on bass and vocals, Steve Pinnell on drums, Martin Bullard on keyboards, Mike Craft as lead vocalist and on rhythm guitar and Mick McConnell the lead guitarist.

The evening commenced with a support artist, female vocalist Charlie Barker, who regaled the audience for 30 minutes with half a dozen beautiful numbers on acoustic guitar. Charlie commenced with Drives Me Crazy followed by Only You, Sting’s Fields of Gold, Silver Thunder Bird, I take my chances and finally This One’s for the Girls.

After a short intermission Smokie took to the stage, opening with Meet You at Midnight, their top 20 hit from 1976. This was followed by Something’s Been Making Me Blue and Lay Back in the Arms of Someone before embarking on a medley of It’s Your Life/Take Good Care of My Baby/Mexican Girl/For a Few Dollars More followed by Wild Wild Angels. If You Think You Know How to Love Me the band’s very first hit which peaked at number three in the charts in 1975 was next on the playlist followed by I Don’t Wanna Talk About It, Changing All the Time, Night Stood Still, Rose A Lee and Have You Ever Seen the Rain. A song recorded by Smokie but better known as a hit for Thin Lizzie, Whisky in the Jar, followed and then we were treated to another top five hit from 1978 Oh Carol. Their final number was the old Searchers hit Needles and Pins but which also was a top ten hit for Smokie themselves in 1977.

The inevitable encore followed comprising firstly Don’t Play Your Rock ‘N Roll to Me and then probably their biggest hit, Living Next Door to Alice which was a top five hit both in 1976 and then again in 1995 when it was reprised and featured the comedian Roy “Chubby” Brown.

This was an excellent concert by the band, returning as Terry Uttley put it to “God’s Own Country” from where their career first started over 40 years ago. On a very balmy evening in Grassington, the band as well as the weather were red hot.

John Burland