It’s always a great pleasure to see Bernie Marsden live in concert, founder member of Whitesnake and Buckingham boy. So seeing he was due to play two nights at the newly renovated Radcliffe Centre in Buckingham I thought I should go along. So OK I also wanted to be a little nosey and see what work has been done at the venue.
Soon as you walk in you can see straight way some of the changes, with the auditorium entrance now to the left, virtually via the old kitchen door, now leading you to some fixed and tiered seating. By all account the capacity numbers have gone for it’s original 180 down to 150, this maybe the result of the very plush comfortable, though high backed seating. It’s best to point out now that The owners, University of Buckingham, have had the major say in the renovation, requiring it primarily as a lecture theatre, so the wide seat also contain small writing tables for the students.
The original Stage has been removed so this is now on the level, the horrible big screen that was originally there has now been replaced by an even worse white screen, that’s even bigger and thicker, taking up too much stage space. Why even for a lectures did anybody believe this was necessary, surely some one could have found a screen that would roll away when not required and installed a black / curtain back drop for performances, the white back ground is so off putting. They have managed to improve the lighting with a couple of fixed lighting rigs in the ceiling, bathing the stage in coloured and white lighting, which it a plus point.
There was no bar facilities on the night, and it’s difficult to say where a bar can now be situated as the foyer, although bigger, has no ideal recess for a bar to be set up, though they did offer light refreshments at the interval.
So what of the music I hear you cry, well as can be expected Bernie was and always will be a true professional and has some great musicians around him, including Guy Fletcher, fiddle player for Little Johnny England and Jim Kirkpatrick on guitar. This was his acoustic band but they still manage to make a great noise. The music they play should appeal to most people, from folk, rock and blues, from the Whitesnake back catologue to Rory Gallagher, he really can do no wrong and why some of the major festivals have not picked up on them is beyond me, this is a band that when they want can make you want to get up and dance, though unfortunately not in the Radcliffe. He also introduced, Bedford based blues singer Cherry Lee Mewis to the stage for a couple of numbers, someone who can also hold an audience and belt out a good song too.
So a great opening night, with a few reservations as a performance space, though I really hope to see more live music being played here, this is still a lovely venue which I hope is not totally set aside for University use, Buckingham needs a good concert area and I’m sure the University will also need the revenue this could bring.