Herman’s Hermits may be most closely associated with the British Invasion of the 1960s, but life for this band has never been better than right now, in 2019.
“We have 160-something shows this year,” Peter Noone told the Standard-Examiner in a recent telephone interview from his home in Santa Barbara, Calif. “It’s a banner year for Herman’s Hermits — the best since 1965.”
Noone is the charismatic frontman of the band that gave the world “I’m into Something Good,” “I’m Henry VIII, I Am,” “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” and “There’s a Kind of Hush,” among other hits. Herman’s Hermits Starring Peter Noone will perform at 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 29, in Kenley Amphitheater, 403 N. Wasatch Drive, Layton. Tickets are $20 to $45, available through http://www.davisarts.org or 801-546-8575.
With more than five decades of performing under his belt, what’s the secret to longevity in the music business?
“Outlive all your competition,” he jokes.
But seriously, the 71-year-old singer figures he’s got another 10 years’ worth of concerts in him before he gives it up for good.
“Every time I hang up with my agent, I say I’ve got another 10 years,” he explains. “I like the music, and I like the quality of my audience. It sounds facetious, but it does matter how the audience feels and whether they’re prepared to accept us.”
Noone says the band currently has about 300 songs in its repertoire, and anyone who’s seen a Herman’s Hermits show knows that no two concerts are ever the same. Rather than working from a set list, Noone says they play off of the audience’s energy, choosing songs based on what they think will resonate with that night’s crowd.
Concerts always start with “I’m Into Something Good” and “Wonderful World,” and end with “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter,” “”I’m Henry VIII, I Am,” and “There’s a Kind of Hush.”
“In between, there’s all these other songs that depend on you as the audience,” he said. “The other day, we did a Beatles song, a Monkees song, a (Rolling) Stones song, and a Johnny Cash song. And I’m a bit of a raconteur, so I’ll tell a few stories — never offensive.”
Noone says he’s a big believer in giving audiences what they expect.
“We keep it simple, he said. “We want to work, and we give people what they want. If we don’t give them what they want, they won’t have us back.”
To illustrate that point, Noone tells an anecdote from five years ago, about a show Herman’s Hermits was booked to play in China. When the band arrived at the venue, the marquee read “Herman’s Hermits Welcome,” and then listed several of the band’s hit songs, including “I’m Into Something Good,” “There’s a Kind of Hush” and “Love Potion No. 9.”
The only problem? Herman’s Hermits didn’t do “Love Potion No. 9.” That was a song by the English Merseybeats group The Searchers. But for some reason, Noone says, the Chinese internet incorrectly listed “Love Potion No. 9” as a song sung by Herman’s Hermits.
“So we learned ‘Love Potion No. 9’ quickly and played it at the concert that night,” Noone laughs. “And that was the only song they clapped for.”
Herman’s Hermits has been a popular band here in Utah, returning year after year to various venues around the state. Noone believes it’s the “family element” of the band that resonates with fans here.
“It’s kind of traditional, good, clean fun — it just works here,” he said. “It works in Texas as well. It’s that family values thing, audiences know we won’t say anything bad in our show.”
In general, Noone and the Hermits play most places about every two years. And, he says, they’re adding new shows every year. For example, the band played a sold-out show at a casino in Lawton, Oklahoma, “and before we left the building they booked us to come back the next year.”
Noone describes himself as a hard worker — a trait learned from his working-class grandparents, whom he lived with. His grandmother worked in a silk factory and his grandfather in a steel mill, both getting up before the sun and cycling to their jobs in all sorts of weather.
“When they came home, I don’t know how they had the energy to have children,” he said.
That work ethic rubbed off on Noone. He figures the more gigs he can get as a musician, the better.
Noone’s wife of 51 years has tried to get him to cut back on the touring, but to no avail.
“My wife wants me to take less work, but I just can’t,” he said.
Noone did take some time off when he was 25 years old, but he says he just didn’t enjoy it. And when he was finally coaxed back onto a stage in a little club in Canada, Noone knew he’d be doing it for the rest of his life.
I got onstage, and we opened with ‘I’m Into Something Good,’” he recalls. “By the time we got to the guitar solo I had this feeling: ‘This is where you’re supposed to be.’”
Noone said the Kenley Amphitheater has always been a good show for the band in the past, and he expects it to be no different this time around.
“We know Layton, we’ve been there so many times,” he said. “We always stay at the Hilton Garden (Inn), we know where the Starbucks is, and we have a lot of friends there.”