The Animals – Tuning Fork May 4, 2017


British Invasion stars The Animals…or at least their drummer…brought a little nostalgia to Auckland’s Tuning Fork, proving that that this combination of musicians is a potent rhythm and blues band, not unlike the originals.

I admit I was pretty skeptical about seeing a version of any band whose remaining original member is the drummer and I was expecting to come across a half-empty venue on this rainy Thursday night.

Well, I couldn’t have been more mistaken.

The Tuning Fork was hosting a sold-out crowd and the atmosphere was just right when I arrived as classic 60s hits by The Hollies, Pretty Things and Zombies had the audience already singing along.

Then, I worried…what if these folks bought tickets expecting to see singer Eric Burdon? They may be sorely disappointed.

No worries.

This version of the band, led by vocalist/guitarist Danny Handley, quickly set everyone’s mind at ease sounding just enough like Burdon himself to do justice to the songs without coming across as a cheap imitation.

In addition to Handley and drummer John Steel, keyboard player Mickey Gallagher was there…Gallagher joined the band briefly in 1965 and went on to play with Ian Dury & The Blockheads. Rounding out the group was bassist Roberto Ruiz.

Handley was in fine voice as the band ripped into a 15-song set full of classic hits and blues greats beginning with Baby Let Me Take You Home and It’s My Life.

The original band had impeccable taste…choosing great songs by John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed, Sam Cooke and Ray Charles to record…and those tunes still sound great when played live.

Of course, everyone was there to sing along to the hits, and there were plenty of them…I’m Crying, Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, It’s My Life and We’ve Gotta Get Out Of This Place.

Handley was a genial host, giving props to Burdon, Price and co and John Steel emerged from behind his kit to introduce Bring It On Home To Me, and later, House Of The Rising Sun.

I should mention that Mickey Gallagher’s playing was very impressive. His solo during Bright Lights, Big City was very cool and he shone on just about every other tune.

Another highlight, for me, was Chuck Berry’s Around And Around…my fave Chuck Berry tune…it got the place rockin’.

Let’s face it, we’re not gonna get to see the original Animals again…two of them are deceased and Burdon and Price barely speak to each other…but really, that didn’t matter on this night.

What we heard was a very talented quartet of musicians who seem very happy to be playing some rhythm and blues and rock and roll.

That was fine by me.

Marty Duda

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Ivan Karczewski:

Animals set list:

  1. Baby, Let Me Take You Home
  2. It’s My Life
  3. Bright Lights, Big City
  4. I’m Crying
  5. Bring It On Home To Me
  6. Don’t Bring Me Down
  7. Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood
  8. The Right Time
  9. Big Boss Man/High Heeled Sneakers
  10. I Put A Spell On You
  11. Around And Around
  12. Club A-Go-Go
  13. We’ve Gotta Get Out Of This Place
  14. Boom Boom
  15. House Of The Rising Sun