Listen to Peter Noone talk for just a few moments — he loves to talk — and you'll realize that throughout his long musical career, he's always believed he was on to something good.
"I'm naively optimistic about everything," said Noone. "I always look for the good part. I know where it's dangerous, so I don't go there. I'm panglossian. That's really the best word to describe me."
Noone comes to Genesee Theatre Feb. 19 to sing some of the Herman's Hermits hits along with others made famous by his pals, such as the Rolling Stones (he's known Mick Jagger for 52 years). The Buckinghams also will perform.
Noone, who studied voice and acting at the Manchester School of Music and Drama, achieved fame at the age of 15 as the lead singer of the pop band Herman's Hermits, with classic hits including "I'm Into Something Good," and "There's a Kind of Hush" along with the offbeat, sing-along tune, "I'm Henry the Eighth."
He's been on the cover of Time Magazine and starred in various television productions including the Hallmark Hall of Fame's presentation of Pinocchio. He's got a radio show, he's working on a Broadway play and he does up to 200 concerts annually.
He's a busy man who will always love the '60s era of music. "I'm a fan of '60s music because it was so enthusiastic," he said. "There were lots of enthusiasts, no naysayers, everybody got excited about the new records coming out. Nobody was jaded."
He's maintained his optimistic spirit because he loves traveling and touring and never gets bored with performing the hits.
"I've been on the road since I was 15," Noone said. "I've been everywhere at least once. I still think of it all as an adventure. We have a theory in the band. Even if you play at the same place, it's a different show. It's always a new experience." And he loves when the audience sings along and knows all the words.
"That's a dream come true. If you've got songs where the audience knows all the words, that's the big payoff. I've got lots of those," he said.
"Because we don't have a set list, we don't even know which songs we're going to do. I just create the show based on how the audience reacts. We always do the big hits, but we just don't have them in an order. Sometimes I do a Johnny Cash song or a Monkey's song or Beatles song or Stones song."
Noone grew up in England with a musical family who enjoyed all kinds of styles. His older sister got him hooked on rock and roll.
"All the songs she played in her room meant something to her … I realized that with popular music you can get inside people's heads," he said.
"Once upon a time, songs meant something to each person, so I like that." For example, he meets fans who tell him they had "There's A Kind of Hush" sung at their wedding.
The '60s era music was good, he said, which is why he's happy to be sharing the stage with the Buckinghams.
"They had great hit songs. It's always been about the song," he said. "I've got songs that are so good my dad could have sung them." Noone laughed but said if his dad were alive, he'd probably agree.
Noone said he regrets that today people don't listen to music together anymore.
"When I was a kid I had to listen to whatever was on the radio. We listened to opera. I hated it at the time. Now I like it."
But the point is, he said, whoever was driving chose the music and the kids in the back seat had to listen to it. "Now everybody is listening to their own music. They have their own devices."
"My dad's rules were that we're going to play this song and play it all to the end and give the guys a chance." Noone said he insists his band members listen to music together from beginning to end — even though they usually disagree on what they want to hear.
Noone said he performs not only for people who grew up with his music, but also for teenagers. "Today's teenagers wish they'd been around for the '60s music. All young people forever will wish that. It won't die out."
And, though he thinks people and the music scene might have gotten jaded over the past few decades, "I believe it's gonna get better," he said. "There's a band like the Beatles practicing in a bar somewhere and it will change the world again."
In the meantime, Noone, in his 60s, said he's healthy, he's got plenty of energy, and he hopes to be doing "100 or more concerts a year for at least another 10 years."
Sheryl DeVore is a freelance writer.
Herman's Hermits featuring Peter Noone & The Buckinghams
When: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 19
Where: Genesee Theatre, 2023 N. Genesee St., Waukegan
Information: 847-782-2366; www.geneseetheatre.com