Every performance is imbued with a huge sense of fun; warmth and infectious humour suffuse every concert through the performers’ actions, wit and repartee on stage.
It is rare enough to find a band whose members’ talents are so considerable; rarer still to find one so at ease with itself and with the audience. The Swing Commanders are truly a joy to behold, and deserve every success that comes their way.
“40s swing…”, “western swing…”? To be honest, it’s really unfair to try and give the Swing Commanders a label as all you are doing is setting yourself up for someone to say “ oh, I don’t think I really like that…” when there really is nothing to “not like…”
The Swing Commanders are superb musicians! In a packed and varied set list, there was pretty much something to please everybody. We got was a tremendous selection of high energy musical treats ranging from some 1920s Scott Joplin, to “Beyond The Sea”, “Sixteen Tons”, “Che Sara Sara”, “That’s Amore”, another oldie in “Alabama Jubilee” and even some rock n roll in “Johnny Be Goode”.
The Swing Commanders are great to watch with entertaining stage routines, clever instrument changes and, if I may say so, very “easy on the eye” band members.
So there you go – something for everybody – even if you “don’t like western swing…” A highly enjoyable feelgood evening with great music from great musiciana and lovely songs from lovely singers – and definitely worth a look if the Swing Commanders are coming to your town!
GOOD VINTAGE CD review
This very hot and talented English western swing band has just released another very enjoyable CD. The album is filled with swinging and very tight musical cuts. There are 13 in all.
This top class album opens up from the big bands with the compilation It Don’t Mean a Thing/Everybody Loves My Baby. Then there is the first of two originals written by band members. Band leader, vocalist and bass player, Peter Riley and arranger, vocalist, reed and piano player, Siena Lloyd wrote Good Vintage. The other, written by band steel guitarist, lead guitarist and mandolin player, Simon Brady is Swing Commanders. The Swing Commanders show their versatility on the instrumental Klarietten Zauber. They also remember the big bands with Tuxedo Junction from Glenn Miller and pop music with The Charleston, La Vie En Rose, A Sweet Old Fashioned Girl, Carolina Moon and from the Beatles Can’t Buy Me Love. Also brought back are the Western favorite Ragtime Cowboy Joe, Ray Benson, Leroy Preston and Floyd Domino’s Bump Bounce Boogie from Asleep at the Wheel and the Leon McAuliffe steel guitar classic that Merle Travis put words to, Steel Guitar Rag.
The band is rounded out with Daisy Thurkettle playing violin (fiddle) and piano, and drummer, Mark Warburton.
Wow…that was so great…an amazing piece of singing at the end, too!
And those girls…how did you get such a matching pair…and such players…fantastic. Truly lifted the end of the evening.
Thanks a lot, guys.
The Swing Commanders serve up a banquet of numbers from sophisticated ballad to raucous rock and roll seasoned with a variety of genres between. Arrangements are intricate; solos achieve standing ovations; and acapella harmonies tug at your emotions.
The fun generated in each performance is infectious. Musical presentation is flawless, with technical brilliance on an amazing range of instruments and presented with humour and warmth.
This is a ‘good time’ band that affects every audience lucky to witness one of their fast moving performances. Throughout the UK, over Europe and across America audiences know they are the best of their kind.
The SWING COMMANDERS are possibly the most entertaining group of musicians in any form of music. The two girls, Siena and Gaynor, got down on the dance floor joining in the dancing whilst still playing their instruments and really giving a dance lesson at the same time.
The multi instrumental set of the musicians and Peter Riley leading them in his now iconic Minnie The Moocher, is the most entertaining sight you could ever wish for and their second set was equally good.
The Swing Commanders are a five-piece band who play songs from the 40s and 50s but put their own unique stamp on them.
That description doesn’t do enough justice to their vibrant, energetic, personality-driven performance which is warm, enthusiastic and really quite awe inspiring.
Each member of the band plays at least three instruments and their versatility is clear for all to see but without the slightest hint of showing off. The performers interchange their instruments with slick ease, at times taking over an instrument from another band member.
Fronted by Peter Riley who formed The Swing Commanders, the band have a fantastic repertoire of bluesy, swingy, jazzy songs. There is much interaction with the audience and within minutes of them coming on stage, it really did feel like being in the company of old friends. Peter Riley is a fabulous front man, he chats to the audience with ease and makes humorous quips which just keep coming (one of my favourite being that he introduced “Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby” as a song from The Jeremy Kyle musical!) He speaks in a completely unrehearsed manner which makes it seem very natural.
Daisy Thurkettle and Siena Lloyd have jaw dropping musical ability between them. Daisy is a classically trained violinist and Siena plays five instruments, is also responsible for designing the band’s CD and DVD covers AND she does all the social networking. It was very refreshing to see female band members who weren’t simply there just to provide backing vocals, as is usually the case. Each band member was equally important and the vibe between all of them was that of friends having an absolute ball.
Stuart Smith (drums and percussion) and Dan Smith (electric guitar) were the quieter members of the band but still oozing with talent.
I must mention Peter Riley’s smile. It is perhaps one of the cheekiest smiles I have ever seen and I found myself waiting to see it appear! He quite often directed it towards his double bass – I actually think he may be in love with it.
The arrangements are all unique to The Swing Commanders – courtesy of Siena who is also the Musical Director – and they all really work without taking anything away from the original.
This band is instantly likeable and if you aren’t tapping your feet within ten seconds of hearing them, there’s something wrong with you. They instantly immerse you into the vibrancy and joy of their performance and their mastery of each instrument. Just watching them enjoy themselves is entertainment in itself.
Tonight was an evening of fun, amazing talent, fantastic music, oodles of personality and a great atmosphere, all tied up in a vintage polka dot bow. Thank you, Swing Commanders.
North West End Star Rating: ★★★★★