A kind of rush

Herman’s Hermits

Peter Noone is going to be my new daddy—at least in my mom’s dreams.

She and my grandma traveled three hours from Yreka so we could be with Herman’s Hermits ("Henry VIII,” “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter") on Mother’s Day weekend. And he rocked.

Despite my husband’s ribbing that no one was going to show up for this gig, a line had already formed by the time we arrived at 6 p.m., two hours before the concert. The $10 tickets ended up selling out, making for a standing-room-only show that baffled even Feather Falls staff.

It was like a freaking Who concert. (The Who, by the way, toured as Herman’s Hermits’ opening band in the ‘60s.)

His ample head of feathered gray-blond hair flipping wildly, Noone enthralled the eager 50-something women, who ran up to the stage for a chance to touch his hand. (We even sent Gram up with my mom’s request for an obscure Herman’s song.)

He hovered on the edge of self-deferential, poking fun at ‘60s groups that tour ad nauseam and did dead-on impressions of Mick Jagger, Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan.

“I’m one of the few singers from the ‘60s who can still sing a whole song holding his stomach in,” he said, stripping to his shiny Versace shirt (insert women’s screams) to pinch a small fat ring above his trousers. “This is my arse,” he said, strutting stageside.

My mom, who had already proclaimed Noone “so fine,” said, “He never used to behave this way.”

During a post-show interview, I asked Noone if he had more freedom these days, not being under the thumb of the corporate machine that manufactured and marketed teen bands back in his heyday. He didn’t quite answer but acknowledged that even though he’s doing new music, the hits are what the fans want, so that’s what he’ll give them.

He said he hasn’t tired of the oldies circuit in part because he took a two-decade hiatus from touring as British-import Herman. His new band is mostly younger men, Americans. ("I wouldn’t employ anybody who didn’t know the music and want to honor the music,” he said in the interview.) And they make it a point not to do all one type of venue. He arrived fresh from the Asparagus Festival in Stockton, where, he said, the bathrooms really stunk.

Noone squeezes in performances—about 100 this year, compared to 270 in 2001—between appearances on the soap opera As the World Turns, where he plays a butler.

Some of the audience members had been following the group from concert to concert. They were big fans—literally. Noone joked that girls used to throw their panties on stage. “They still do a bit—they’re just a bit bigger than they used to be,” he observed.

Noone joked to the audience that he was born in Chico. The truth, he later told us, is that a decade or two ago his band, the Tremblers, regularly played the former Chico club Cabo’s.

Now, he has the Noone-atics, part of his fan club, which boasts 5,100 paid members.

They love Herman’s Hermits, he said in the interview, because it reminds them of an escape during a time when the British government was topsy-turvy and the United States was staring down the throat of a war in Southeast Asia. “It’s nice, innocent,” he said.

And it doesn’t have to be anything more than that.