The 1960s certainly saw no shortage of great British Invasion bands, but what’s remarkable is how many of these artists are on the road today, delighting audiences across America just as they did 50 years ago. One such group is the duo of Chad Stuart and Jeremy Clyde, who made their mark among the long-haired lads of the era with a unique sound that diverged from the ’50s rock ‘n’ roll and R&B that influenced their Merseybeat contemporaries. Instead, Chad & Jeremy went the lesser tread folk route, performing more melodious tunes with soothing two-part harmonies, often accompanied by acoustic guitar, piano, and string arrangements.
Since briefly breaking up in 1965 and then more decisively at the end of the ’60s, Chad & Jeremy have reunited a few times throughout the years, once for a period in the 1980s and then again in the early 2000s. They are a rare exception among their British Invasion peers in that they’ve experienced far more success in the United States than their home country, racking up seven US Top 40 singles and 11 in the Hot 100 throughout the 1960s. Considering their dedicated fanbase on this side of the pond, it’s only natural that they still enjoy touring the American circuit.
If your initial reason for attending a Chad & Jeremy show is simply to hear their best-remembered hits, “Yesterday’s Gone” and “Summer Song,” you’ll definitely get what you came for. But there’s also a good chance you will leave with a much greater interest in the band’s discography. The set comes with a built-in timeline of Chad & Jeremy’s career, beginning in Jeremy’s words, “at the end,” as they started out their night at the Beachland Ballroom with a lovely a capella rendition of their last charting single, “You Are She,” immediately displaying how well they’ve preserved their distinct vocal dynamic.
The concert had a rather intimate atmosphere, featuring Chad & Jeremy on keyboards and guitar with no backing band, calling to mind the duo’s early days of playing cafes and clubs. Split between their ’60s classics and solo work, the evening featured a variety of selections from Chad & Jeremy’s history, from traditional songs like the old English ballad “The Water is Wide” and the American pop standard “September in the Rain,” to their bigger hits, like “Willow Weep for Me” and fan favorite “Before and After.” There were also some cult-classic album cuts, such as the morbidly humorous “Rest in Peace,” penned by Chad for 1967’s Of Cabbages and Kings, and the curious “Emancipation of Mr. X” from 1968’s The Ark, allegedly based on an unnamed friend who became wrapped up in the drug culture of the 1960s. They even tossed in some blues pieces, such as “Doghouse Blues” and “Take Out Some Insurance,” that added more dimension to the set by venturing a bit from the typical Chad & Jeremy sound.
Personally, I was especially impressed by the songs taken from Jeremy’s in-progress solo project, The Bottom Drawer Sessions, a collection of songs he had written with late lyricist and friend, David Pierce. Some of my favorites were the clever and imagery-rich “Dragon Wanted” and “B-Movie,” as well as the more sweet and melancholy “Only the Brave” and “For a While There,” all of which fit in nicely with Chad & Jeremy’s own brand of smooth and sophisticated fare.
It’s hard not to have a good time at a Chad & Jeremy concert, and not just because of the timeless tunes. Based on their hits, you might guess their shows would be pretty toned down, and though the music does retain its laid-back quality, Chad & Jeremy’s stage presence is anything but muted. It’s a wonder they don’t bill their performances as “an evening of music and comedy,” because I haven’t laughed so much at a band’s onstage banter in a long time. The sharp contrast of Chad & Jeremy’s personalities allows them to bounce off each other effortlessly, with Jeremy playing the proper English gentleman, emceeing the show with witty one-liners, and Chad chiming in with quiet, dry humor, making sarcastic comments at his partner and the audience, who thoroughly enjoyed every minute. One of the most bizarre yet hysterical moments was when Chad spontaneously broke into the British national anthem on the keyboard and then subsequently apologized, explaining, “I’m not sure why.”
Chad & Jeremy shared plenty of interesting anecdotes along the way as well, telling the stories behind many of their songs and also reflecting on their numerous television appearances in the 1960s. They segued into “Distant Shores” by mentioning the song’s inclusion in an episode of Batman, and discussed a corny throwaway joke that Jeremy came up with on the set of Dick Van Dyke that unexpectedly resurfaced years later. Even the final song of the night, the achingly beautiful “I’ll Be Back,” came with the tale of a patronizing experience that Chad once had at an Eagles concert, inspiring him to come up with the “instant encore.” These breaks really helped flesh out the show and gave it a very personal feeling, as Chad & Jeremy were excellent at engaging with the audience and keeping them constantly entertained between every song.
In today’s music scene, when so many indie artists are striving to capture the stripped-down, honest sound, Chad & Jeremy are still nailing it better than anyone. There aren’t many groups out there who can match their soothing tenor and superb harmonies, and attending such a show is actually quite refreshing compared with the loud, pulsing world of modern pop, and even the other British Invasion groups currently touring. It seems that the reason Chad & Jeremy still put on live performances is because they have a great time doing it, and the fun, casual atmosphere of their concerts is certain to brighten your evening as well.
For the latest on Chad & Jeremy, head over to their website.